Every Indian loves to eat it but very few can make it!!

December 21st, 2011

So, what do you think it is?

No, it is NOT butter chicken, it is NOT palak paneer, it is also NOT rogan josh and it certainly ISN’T vindaloo!!

It is the most artistic and yet simplest of dishes.

In the north of India it is called dossa, in the south they call it thosai, but I call it dosai!!

In 1990 I moved to Sydney from Melbourne.

Well Melbournians, I had to as the restaurant I worked for closed down and after a good two weeks of trying with no luck, I was asked to go north.

Sydney was not entirely different to Melbourne except that Sydney restaurateurs, unlike their Melbourne counterparts, always gave me hope, which helped me feel good but did not pay my bills!!

But, after a good four weeks on the run I finally got a job as a ‘dish washer’ in an Indian Restaurant in a suburb called Mosman!

This restaurant was owned by one Mr Ronnie, who was a food and beverage manager in a 5-star hotel during the day and ran this restaurant with his wife in the evening.

My job description was very clear, I was to wash all the crockery, cutlery and the pots and pans. Simple!

Although I had worked as a chef in India (actually, I had been an executive chef in the two years before leaving India), Ronnie did not trust my skills as a chef.

This was perfectly fine by me at that time as it meant less responsibility and, of course less, headaches!!

Who wants any headaches?!!

On the menu in Ronnie’s restaurant was a dish I had not come across before in Sydney, and believe you me, I had seen a lot of menus in Sydney as I had tried my luck in around 60 odd restaurants, or so, looking for a job.

It had been my favourite dish as a child, masala dosai!

So many Indians were living here in Sydney, there were so many Indian restaurants and not one was serving masala dosai. How could this be?

It was unbelievable!!

Ronnie’s restaurant, however, served masala dosai but it was not made in the restaurant, it came from his kitchen at home and was re-heated in a microwave and served to the customers!!

Never in my 10-year  short life as a chef had I seen anything like  this before.

I had learnt the art and craft of making masala dosai in Taj Residency, Bangalore from KK Shiva.

So, on a ‘not-so-busy’ day in Ronnie’s restaurant I called the chef, who was from Bangladesh, and showed him how to make this dish, from start to finish, just the way my friend KK Shiva had taught me years ago in the Taj Residency, Bangalore.

Ronnie’s wife saw me do this and I was promptly asked to move on.

That was the day I decided, if I was ever to run my own restaurant it would always have this dish on it even if the menu was from the North of India!

Masala dosai, I believe, is the national dish of India and is cherished by both the rich and the poor equally who stand shoulder to shoulder and have it made right in front of them, from the roadside stalls of Bandra (in Mumbai) to the restaurants  in Bannerghatta (in Bangalore)!!

At nilgiri’s I don’t care whether you’re a king or a pauper but I do care  to make fresh masala dosai  in our open kitchen so you can see for yourself that it is made fresh for you. If you want to try out this recipe at home please follow the recipe (all the quantities are shown in this recipe) and follow the pictures to make sure you’re getting things like consistency, and etc., right.

Good luck. As we all know, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs so don’t be put off if your batter doesn’t seem to work the first time or the second time!

Usually by your third attempt the dosai will be good.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes practise but you’ll enjoy eating the ‘rejects’ along the way.

Anah Daata Sukhi Bhava!!

Can I also take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2012 and I hope you have a Happy Christmas.

The ingredients: 1 part white lentil flour, 3 parts rice flour, a pinch of salt (to make the pancake golden)

adding salt to the rice flour and white lentil flour

mixing the ingredients with the best and most natural whisk otherwise known as fingers!

add water [approximately 3-3 1/2 parts
mix or whisk

more mixing

check texture, it should be a ‘dropping-like’ consistency

pour into pot to let it ferment and rise!!

the mixture will ferment

cover fermenting mixture with a moist cloth, set aside for a few hours or overnight

remove cover to see it rise like a soufflé

set aside a teaspoon of the risen batter to form a ‘starter’ for the next batch

keep ‘starter’ in the refrigerator covered in cling wrap

add water to prepare batter for dosai

mix, or as I say, ‘fold’

check consistency, it must be close to a ‘pouring-like’ consistency for making the pancake

get ready for the act!!

prepare cooktop, or a griddle plate, or a ‘tawa’ by heating it and putting salt on the cooktop

wipe away the salt thus leaving behind a teflon-like surface when the salt starts to ‘cook’

add mixture to the smooth cooktop, just a big drop, holding the steel cup with 3 fingers only!

pouring the mixture on top of hot plate/griddle plate

smoothing the mixture with a circular motion, moving outwards in a concentric ring-like motion

enlarging the circle

enlarging the dosai

enlarging the circle, at this stage you drizzle clarified butter and oil over the dosai, or, if you are vegan simply omit the butter and use oil only

clarified butter

adding oil to the butter stops it burning

drizzle butter in a circular pattern

gently spread butter with a spoon

the upper surface of the dosai will fry and start to turn golden

the dosai will fold

roll the dosai

the first dosai is never perfect so don’t worry!!

the second dosai is never perfect either!

the third dosai; well from now on it is perfect!

the beautiful circles left by the cooked dosai

add potato filling

gently lever under the dosai, working around its perimeter

lever the dosai upwards gently

fold over filling

roll over

serve masala dosai with classical accompaniments, sambhar and coconut chutney!!

your wonderful dosai served at the table!


  1. Raj Kapoor

    This was a nice blog outlining step by step with great pictures .. to make one reminisce about eating mouthwatering thosai’s. Loooks yummy and especially when you see the dosa served on a banana leaf its even more yummy… I could already imagine the taste of it… Nice One..

  2. Angela

    Ajoy I love all of your recipes and can’t wait to make these! Do you have a good recipe for the potato filling?

  3. Priti

    Made dosa’s and utappams over the weekend and thanked you from my heart on every perfect dosa and uttapam served from kitchen…which was every single time! Saved a spoonful of batter to add to the next batch. I am in love with this method for making dosa batter, one shortcut that works better than the long cut for me! :))

  4. Sharada

    Thank you thank you thank you!!! You have no idea how easy you have made life for me! I can’t say enough how each of your posts truly outlines the steps so that even a novice cook can strike gold! So encouraging. It truly is an art to write like that. And then of course…to make dosa without grinding!! You’re simply awesome! This will really help as we head to the bitter cold here in Wisconsin! BTW…did I already say Thank you?!

  5. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Priti,
    You are a champion!!
    Happy cooking!

  6. priti

    I used this recipe as a base and made idli batter using the 1:2 ratio. The result was unbelievably good! 🙂 The batter fermented better than I had anticipated and the idlis were soft, spongy, fluffy and just perrrrfect! Reminded me of the idlis from my south indian neighbour’s kitchen (Yes! they were THAT good!). I was so happy that I have been sharing this great idea with everyone I know. I kept some fermented batter aside and added it to the new batter to ferment and I got even better results in lesser time. I can’t wait to try dosas too. Thanks a lot chef! My dream of being able to make perfect idlis is finally fulfilled. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!! 🙂 I love the fact that I dont have to use my mixer and I can make idli-dosas in such a short time.

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  8. jaswindercheema

    ajoy,enjoyed reading ur recipe.speciality was the way it was taught .i also make dosa and luv to eat it but few steps were new .now i will try this way on some sunday.

  9. Ajoy Joshi

    Hello Sheena and Barry,
    Good to hear from you and thanks for your well wishes. Wish you and Barry the same and also a very happy new year.
    Please let me know how you go with your dossai making project. Hope it works.
    Wagga is always good and so was Melbourne, except of course the cricket.
    Kind regards,

  10. Sheena Simpson

    Thank you Ajoy for your very good demonstation of making a dosai – I will give it a try sometime!
    Barry and I wish you Meera and Anidruddh a very merry christmas and a happy new year.
    Enjoy your trip to Wagga and melbourne and of course enjoy the Boxing Day test!
    Sheena and Barry

  11. Usha

    All these years, i’ve seen amma and others prepare the batter using a mixer or a grinder or a grinding stone ( when Pati was there ).. This is a new way for me! Will definitely give it a try! 🙂 Thank you!

  12. Anonymous

    Thanks mate!!

  13. Suresh Iyer

    Thosai or Dosai, your passion to share makes it more tastier, I really enjoy reading your blog. Cheers

  14. KAMINI

    Wonderful way of teaching and when I tried the same way it doesn’t come up same but your wording that Rome doesn’t built in a day so I will try again and will make sure that I will reach up to your mark soon.But thanks for your recipe and procedures

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