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Dosa (food)

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Dosa with sambar and chutney
TypePancake, crepe
Place of originIndia
Region or stateTamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsRice and black gram
VariationsMasala dosa, rava dosa, ghee roast dosa, paneer dosa, plain dosa, and many more

A dosa is a thin, savoury crepe in South Indian cuisine made from a fermented batter of ground white gram and rice. Dosas are served hot, often with chutney and sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew). Dosas are popular in South Asia as well as around the world.


Two dosa rest next to a dollop of butter on a plantain leaf. There are separate bowls for the sauces.
Plain dosas with condiments
Butter dosa served with coconut chutney and sambhar

The dosa originated in South India, but its precise geographical origins are unknown. According to food historian K. T. Achaya, references in the Sangam literature suggest that dosa was already in use in the ancient Tamil country around the 1st century CE.[1] However, according to historian P. Thankappan Nair, dosa originated in the town of Udupi in present-day Karnataka.[2] Achaya states that the earliest written mention of dosa appears in the 8th-century literature of present-day Tamil Nadu, while the earliest mention of dosa in Kannada literature appears a century later.[3]

In popular tradition, the origin of the dosa is linked to southern part of India in general, because of the dish's association with South Indian cuisines.[3] The Tamil dosa is traditionally softer and thicker; the thinner and crispier version of dosa was first made in present-day Karnataka.[4] A recipe for dosa can be found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka.[5]

The dosa arrived in Mumbai with the opening of Udupi restaurants in the 1930s.[6] After India's independence in 1947, South Indian cuisine became gradually popular in North India. In New Delhi, the Madras Hotel in Connaught Place became one of the first restaurants to serve South Indian cuisine.[7][8]

Dosas, like many other dishes of South Indian cuisine, were introduced in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by South Indian emigrants during British rule.[9][10] Tirunelveli and Tuticorin merchants who settled there were instrumental in the spreading of South Indian cookery across the island by opening restaurants (vegetarian hotels) to meet initially the needs of the emigrant population.[11][12] Dosa has found its way into the culinary habits of the Sri Lankan people from their Tamil population, where it has evolved into an island-specific version which is quite distinct from the Indian dosa. In both forms, it is called those (තෝසේ or [t̪oːse]) or thosai (தோசை or [t̪oːsaɪ̯]) in Sinhala and in Sri Lankan Tamil.

Apart from these countries, dosa was introduced to the world cuisines since early 18th entury by the immigrations of the Tamil diaspora to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Seychelles, United Kingdom and United States.


Dosa with chutney and sambar with sauteed potato filling in a restaurant
Dosa served with sautéed potatoes.

Dosa is the anglicised name of a variety of South Indian names for the dish, for example, dosai in Tamil, dosey in Kannada and dosha in Malayalam.

The standard transliterations and pronunciations of the word in various South Indian languages are as follows:

Language Transliteration Pronunciation (IPA)
Tamil: தோசை dōsai [d̪oːsaɪ̯]
Kannada: ದೋಸೆ dōse [d̪oːse]
Malayalam: ദോശ dōśha [d̪oːʃa]
Telugu: దోశ[13] dōsa [d̪oːsa]



Dosa is high in carbohydrates and contains no added sugars. As its key ingredients are rice and black gram, it is a good source of protein.[14] A typical homemade plain dosa without oil contains about 112 calories, of which 84% is carbohydrate and 16% is protein.[15] The fermentation process increases the vitamin B and vitamin C content.[16]



A mixture of rice and white gram that has been soaked in water for at least 4–5 hours is ground finely to form a batter. Some add a bit of soaked fenugreek seeds while grinding the batter. The proportion of rice to lentils is generally 3:1 or 4:1. After adding salt, the batter is allowed to ferment overnight, before being mixed with water to get the desired consistency. The batter is then ladled onto a hot tava or griddle greased with oil or ghee. It is spread out with the base of a ladle or a bowl to form a pancake. It can be made either thick like a pancake, or thin and crispy. A dosa is served hot, either folded in half or rolled like a wrap. It is usually served with chutney and sambar. The mixture of white grams and rice can be replaced with highly refined wheat flour or semolina.



Dosas can be stuffed with fillings of vegetables and sauces to make a quick meal. They are typically served with a vegetarian side dish which varies according to regional and personal preferences. Common side items are:



Masala dosa is a roasted dosa served with potato curry, chutney and sambar, while saada (plain) dosa is prepared with a lighter texture; paper dosa is a thin and crisp version. Rava dosa is made crispier using semolina.[17] Newer versions include Chinese dosa, cheese dosa, paneer dosa, and pizza dosa.[18]

Though dosa is typically made with rice and lentils, other versions exist.[19]

Types of dosa
Name Description
Masala dosa Roasted and crispy dosa. Served with potato curry, chutney and sambar.
Oats dosa Healthy, crisp and lacy instant dosa made with oats.
Wheat dosa Dosa made with wheat flour batter.
Set dosa Spongy, soft and light, served in a set of 2-3 dosa per serving.
Plain dosa Dosa has lighter texture can be crispy too.
Ghee roast (Nei dosai in Tamil) Plain dosa cooked with Ghee instead of oil and usually with no filling.
Egg dosa (Muttai dosai in Tamil) A thicker base of dosa topped with beaten egg, or beaten egg is added to batter before cooking.
Kari dosai A Tamil Nadu specialty with a dosa of thicker base topped with cooked meat, usually chicken or mutton.
Paneer dosa Spiced paneer filling inside the dosa.
Palak dosa Layered with palak (spinach) paste inside the folds of dosa.
Mini soya dosa[20] Soya milk and wheat flour[21]
Pesarattu (green dosa)[22] Made with green gram.[23] It is served with Allam Pachadi. (Ginger chutney)
Adai dosa From Tamil Nadu a dosa-like dish prepared from a combination of toor dal, rice, curry leaves, red chillies and asafoetida. The batter is not fermented. Usually eaten with jaggery or aviyal.
Light white dosa Rice and coconut.[24]
Kadapa Neyyi karam dosa[25] Rice flour fermented overnight and mixed with sodium carbonate. The topping is a mixture of onion and chili paste (called yerra karam) and a chutney made with tomato and flour made in a gravy of curd. It is roasted in Ghee. It is also occasionally topped with fried gram powder.[25]
Onion rava dosa[26] Semolina, rice flour, onion
Ragi wheat dosa Ragi, whole wheat flour[27]
Rava dosa Made with rava or sooji (semolina).
Benne dose Made with butter ('benne' in Kannada) ('vennai' in Tamil). Predominantly famous as "Davanagere benne dose" associated with Davanagere district in Karnataka.
Neer dosa Made with a watery rice batter.
Vodu dose or Kappa roti Vodu dose or Kappa roti is made from unfermented rice, fenugreek seeds, grated coconut, thinly flattened rice and sometimes leftover cooked rice. It is cooked on an earthen pan with a rounded bottom. It is fluffy and appears like a bread. It is cooked without the use of oil.
Amboli, ghavan, dhirde In coastal parts of Maharashtra, variations known as amboli and ghavan are thin rice crêpes prepared with fermented batter, while dhirde is prepared with unfermented batter.
Buttermilk dosa Semolina, maida, buttermilk.[28]
Jaggery dosa Rice flour, maida, grated coconut, jaggery.
Minapattu Very similar to plain dosa. However, this version tends to be thicker and, compared to plain dosa, it has a greater ratio of urad dal to rice flour or, in some cases, idli rava.
Maida dosa The Maida dosa batter is made from Maida(refined flour) by adding water to get dense consistency, Chopped onion,Chilli, Corriander leaves and salt is added for taste. Maida dosa is quickly made in many households of Karnataka state, India.

World record


On 16 November 2014, 29 chefs, at Hotel Daspalla in Hyderabad, India created a dosa that was 16.68 m (54.7 ft) long and weighed 13.69 kg (30.2 lb), earning the Guinness World Record for the longest dosa.[29]

  • Uttapam: a thick relatively soft crepe mostly topped with diced onions, tomatoes, cilantro or cheese, sometimes described as an Indian pizza
  • Pesarattu: made from green gram in Andhra Pradesh, served with a ginger and tamarind chutney
  • Appam: a pancake prepared from patted rice batter, served with sweet coconut milk
  • Chakuli pitha: the batter contains more black gram and less rice flour
  • Apam balik: made from a mixture of flour, eggs, sugar, baking soda, coconut milk and water
  • Jianbing: a Chinese dish
  • Bánh xèo: a Vietnamese dish
  • Lahoh: a Somali dish
  • Injera: an Ethiopian dish made with fermented teff batter

See also



  1. ^ K. T. Achaya (November 2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 80. ISBN 81-7371-293-X.
  2. ^ P. Thankappan Nair (2004). South Indians in Kolkata. Punthi Pustak. p. 320. ISBN 81-86791-50-7.
  3. ^ a b Charmaine O' Brien (15 December 2013). The Penguin Food Guide to India. Penguin Books Limited. p. 378. ISBN 978-93-5118-575-8.
  4. ^ Vir Sanghvi (1 January 2004). Rude Food: The Collected Food Writings of Vir Sanghvi. Penguin Books India. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-0-14-303139-0.
  5. ^ K.T. Achaya (2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-81-7371-293-7.
  6. ^ "8 oldest Udupi restaurants in Bombay". The Free Press Journal. 31 May 2019. Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Much Ado Over Coffee: Indian Coffee House Then And Now, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Routledge, 2017". Archived from the original on 16 April 2023. Retrieved 28 March 2023.
  8. ^ Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen: Autobiography of an Unknown Indian Woman, Sethu Ramaswamy, Namita Gokhale Editions, 2003
  9. ^ J. Hurst, Christon, ed. (2023). "Fermented Foods of South Asia". Microbial Fermentations in Nature and as Designed Processes. Hoboken: Wiley. p. 342. ISBN 978-1-119-84999-5. OCLC 1393173167.
  10. ^ Davidson, Alan (2014). "Sri Lanka". In Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford companion to food (3. ed. / ed. by Tom Jaine ed.). Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press. p. 774. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7. OCLC 903167481.
  11. ^ Kadhirvel, S. (2000). "Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka: The countours of dissonance". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 61: 1045–1046. ISSN 2249-1937. Archived from the original on 3 November 2023. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  12. ^ Garg, Sanjay; SAARC Cultural Centre, eds. (2014). Circulation of cultures and culture of circulation: diasporic cultures of South Asia during 18th to 20th centuries. Colombo: SAARC Cultural Centre. p. 151. ISBN 978-955-0567-12-6. OCLC 910664759. Archived from the original on 29 June 2023. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  13. ^ "A Telugu-English Dictionary. New ed., thoroughly rev. And brought up to date...2nd ed". 1903.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Srilakshmi, B. (2006) [2002]. Nutrition Science (Revised 2nd ed.). New Age International (formerly Wiley Eastern Ltd.). p. 403. ISBN 978-81-224-1633-6. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  15. ^ "Calorie Chart, Nutrition Facts, Calories in Food | MyFitnessPal | MyFitnessPal.com". www.myfitnesspal.com. Archived from the original on 19 April 2023. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  16. ^ Nutrition and Dietetics - Higher Secondary - First Year (PDF). Directorate of School Education, Government of Tamil Nadu. 2004. p. 31. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  17. ^ "A Beginner's Guide to the Great Wide World of Indian Dosa, Priya Krishna and Shailendra Krishna, October 6, 2016". Archived from the original on 9 November 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  18. ^ "A Dosa Lesson From a Professional - A Good Appetite, Melissa Clark, New York Times, 6 October 2017". Archived from the original on 21 February 2018. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  19. ^ Kumar, Ashwani; Singh, Sarabjit; Tomer, Vidisha; Prasad, Rasane (2022). Cereals and cereal-based foods : functional benefits and technological advances for nutrition and healthcare (First ed.). Palm Bay, FL, USA: Apple Academic Press. p. 251. ISBN 9781000164299. Retrieved 25 April 2023. The ingredients for dosa preparation are not limited to just rice and black gram instead pure rice or a mixture of rice, wheat, sorghum, maize or millets can also be used.
  20. ^ "Recipe: Mini soya dosa". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  21. ^ "Mini Soya Dosa". food.ndtv.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Healthy snack recipe: Green Dosa". The Times of India. 17 February 2016. Archived from the original on 19 March 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  23. ^ "Pesarattu (Green Gram Dosa)". food.ndtv.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Recipe: Light white dosa". The Times of India.
  25. ^ a b "The karam dosas from kadapa". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  26. ^ "Onion Rava Dosa". food.ndtv.com. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Ragi Wheat Dosa". food.ndtv.com. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  28. ^ Verma, Neera. South Indian Cook Book. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-7182-836-4.
  29. ^ "Longest Dosa". guinnessworldrecords.com.
  30. ^ 27 November 2019. US presidential candidate Kamala Harris cooks masala dosas with Mindy Kaling Archived 23 July 2023 at the Wayback Machine. The Hindu. Retrieved 23 July 2023.