Sri Lankan Thosai/Dosa (large, thin crispy rice pancake)

OK, so admittedly, the recipe I am going to share with you today is not a Gujarati recipe but without any doubt, Gujaratis, Indians, Sri Lankans and many other nationalities the world over LOVE this recipe because it is not only delicious, but also extremely versatile! It can be eaten as an accompaniment with a variety of meat and vegetable curries. My current favourite is to eat it plain with coriander chutney and coconut chutney with sambhar (dal) on the side.

(The recipe for coriander chutney is on this site and I will endeavour to post recipes of coconut chutney and the sambhar dal soon.) Another favourite is to eat thosai/dosa with chicken curry.

So for those of you who are new to Indian and Sri Lankan food, a dosa/thosai is a large, thin, crispy pancake made of mainly ground rice and dal and the dish originates from South India and Sri Lanka. Today, I will share with you the Sri Lankan version of the recipe which comes from my best friend from university's mother who is a very dear aunty to me. Thank you 'Aunty V' for letting me share your knowledge and talents!

It will make enough batter for about 20 dosas/thosai but that all depends on how large you spread your thosai/dosas with your ladle. :)

Also, the great thing about this batter is that you can freeze it in batches for between 2 and 3 weeks and it will be fine to use once throughly defrosted. Please remember to freeze the original batter without the added water to it so that it doesn't get clogged up with water when you defrost it. I will mention in the recipe when you can freeze the batter, if you so wish.

So, without further ado, let's get to the recipe! :)

Here is what it will look like when you have spread it and it has cooked on one side:


2 mugs of white rice
1 mug of urad dal (aka urid dal) - available from any Indian grocery store
1 pinch of fenugreek seeds (aka dry methi seeds)
1 pinch of whole cumin seeds (aka whole jeera)
5 or 6 whole peppercorns
1 slice of bread (ideally white)
salt to taste
1 calorie spray oil or sunflower oil


1. Wash the rice and urad dal separately in different dishes, 2 to 3 times with warm water until the water runs clear.

2. Pour fresh, clean, cold water into each dish until there is about an inch of water above the level of the urad dal and the rice in each dish; this will allow the grains to soak.

3. Add the fenugreek seeds, the cumin seeds and the peppercorns to the dish in which the rice will soak.

4. Cover each dish with a plate or lid and leave both to soak overnight for at least 12 hours in a dry place - not in the fridge - your kitchen surface should do nicely.

5.  Once soaked, do not discard the water; save it in another vessel to help with the next stage - the grinding of the grains.

6. In a robust grinder, grind the rice with the slice of bread to a smooth paste and then move the ground rice and bread to a big dish. Use some of the water saved in the vessel to grind if required - just enough to grind it.

7. Then grind the urad dal to a smooth paste - again, add the saved water very little by little only to aid the grinding process. Only use enough water to grind - one wants to create a batter that is the consistency of American pancake batter - so quite thick.

8. Once both the urad dal and the rice have been ground, mix them well together and add salt to your desired taste.

9. Leave the batter for at least another 8 to 10 hours to stand  - outside on a kitchen surface is fine; it should not be in the fridge.

10. When you are ready to make the dosas/thosai, mix the batter well first. Then take a third of the batter mixture into a separate dish and add one ladle of cold/room temperature water and mix it into the batter. Make sure that the batter is liquid enough to spread as shown in the video below (somewhere between the thickness of American pancake batter and French crepes - not too thick and not too thin).

NB: At this stage, you can freeze the rest of the batter in 2 separate batches for next time - without any water in it. Each of these 3 batches should make about 7 to 8 dosas after adding the water to make the batter more spreadable.

11. Heat a dosa/thosai pan or a large frying pan until it's searing hot and either use 1 calorie spray oil or sunflower oil to coat the base of the pan, lightly. Use a kitchen tissue to wipe off the excess.

12. Spread the batter in the pan to create a dosa/thosai:

Here is a video on how to spread your thosai/dosa:

13. When the edges start to lift up automatically after they start to brown, you know it's nearly time to flip it over.

14. Before you flip it over, lightly spray with 1 calorie spray oil. Flip it over and cook the other side until it's nice and brown. (The thinner you spread the batter, the browner and crisper your dosa/thosai will be.)

15. Take it off the pan and serve hot! :)

It is traditionally eaten with potato and onion subze/curry (recipe: in it and the final product would look like this:

This is known as Masala Dosa

It is also served with sambhar which is a thicker version of the Gujarati dal. I will share the recipe for that soon, but in the meantime, feel free to try the Gujarati dal that I love! Here is the link: 

So there your have it my friends! Let me know in the comments how yours turned out!

'Til next time...!
Bon appetit! xx


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