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

A dosa is a thin savory pancake in South Indian cuisine made from a fermented batter of ground black lentils and rice. Dosas are served hot, often with chutney and sambar. Dosa is a signature dish in South India and Sri Lanka, and is popularly served in their respective restaurants around the world.


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

Dosas originated in South India, but its precise geographical origins are unknown. According to historian P. Thankappan Nair, dosa originated in the town of Udupi in present-day Karnataka.[1][2] However, 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.[3] Achaya states that the earliest written mention of dosa appears in literature of present-day Tamil Nadu, in the 8th century, while the earliest mention of dosa in the Kannada literature appears a century later.[4]

In popular tradition, the origin of the dosa is linked to Udupi, probably because of the dish's association with Udupi restaurants.[4] The Tamil dosai is softer and thicker. The thinner and crispier version of dosa was first made in present-day Karnataka.[5] A recipe for dosa can be found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka.[6]

Dosa most likely arrived in Sri Lanka as part of the culture of Tamils native to the country.

After the Independence of India, South Indian cuisine became gradually popular in the North. In Delhi, the Madras Hotel[7] in Connaught Place became one of the first restaurants to serve South Indian cuisine.[8] It arrived in Mumbai with the Udupi restaurants in the 1930s.[9]


Dosa with chutney and sambar with sauteed potato filling in a restaurant
Dosa served with sauteed 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)
Kannada: ದೋಸೆ dōse [d̪oːse]
Malayalam: ദോശ dōśa [d̪oːʃa]
Tamil: தோசை dōsai [d̪oːsaɪ̯], [t̪oːsaɪ̯]
Telugu: దోశ[10] dōsa [d̪oːsa]
Sinhala: තෝසේ තෝසේ [t̪oːse]


Dosa is high in carbohydrates and contains no added sugars or saturated fats. As its key ingredients are rice and black gram, it is a good source of protein.[11] A typical homemade plain dosa without oil contains about 112 calories, of which 84% is carbohydrate and 16% protein.[12] The fermentation process increases the vitamin B and vitamin C content.[13]


A mixture of rice and black or green gram that has been soaked in water is ground finely to form a batter. Some add a bit of soaked fenugreek seeds. The proportion of rice to lentils is generally 3:1 or 4:1. The batter is allowed to ferment overnight, before being mixed with water to get the desired consistency. The batter then ladled onto a hot tava or griddle greased with oil or ghee. It is spread out with the base of a ladle or bowl to form a pancake. It can be made either to be 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 black grams and rice can be replaced with highly refined wheat flour or semolina.


Dosa 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.[14] Newer versions include Chinese dosa, cheese dosa, paneer dosa, and pizza dosa.[15]

Though dosa is typically made with rice and lentils, other versions exist.[16]

Types of dosa
Name Description
Masala dosa Roasted and crispy dosa. Served with potato curry, chutney or 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 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[17] Soya milk and wheat flour[18]
Pesarattu (green dosa)[19] Made with green gram.[20]
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.[21]
Kadapa karam dosa[22] 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 also occasionally topped with fried gram powder.[22]
Onion rava dosa[23] Semolina, rice flour,onion
Ragi wheat dosa Ragi, whole wheat flour[24]
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, ghavan and dhirde (or dhirade) are thin rice crêpes prepared with fermented batter, while dhirde is prepared with unfermented batter.
Buttermilk dosa Semolina, maida, buttermilk.[25]
Jaggery dosa Rice flour, maida, grated coconut, jaggery.

In popular culture

Related foods

See also


  1. ^ P. Thankappan Nair (2004). South Indians in Kolkata. Punthi Pustak. p. 320. ISBN 81-86791-50-7.
  2. ^ Socians, The (15 November 2019). "Origin of Masala Dosa: Know How From a Sin Accompanied by a Bad Habit to Delicious South Indian Food". Socians. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  3. ^ K. T. Achaya (November 2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 80. ISBN 81-7371-293-X.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ K.T. Achaya (2003). The Story of Our Food. Universities Press. p. 85. ISBN 978-81-7371-293-7.
  7. ^ Bride at Ten, Mother at Fifteen: Autobiography of an Unknown Indian Woman, Sethu Ramaswamy, Namita Gokhale Editions, 2003
  8. ^ Much Ado Over Coffee: Indian Coffee House Then And Now, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Routledge, 2017
  9. ^ "8 oldest Udupi restaurants in Bombay". The Free Press Journal. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  10. ^ "A Telugu-English Dictionary. New ed., thoroughly rev. And brought up to date...2nd ed". 1903.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Calorie Chart, Nutrition Facts, Calories in Food | MyFitnessPal |". Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ A Beginner’s Guide to the Great Wide World of Indian Dosa, Priya Krishna and Shailendra Krishna, October 6, 2016
  15. ^ A Dosa Lesson From a Professional - A Good Appetite, Melissa Clark, New York Times, 6 October 2017
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Recipe: Mini soya dosa". The Times of India.
  18. ^ "Mini Soya Dosa".
  19. ^ "Healthy snack recipe: Green Dosa". The Times of India. 17 February 2016.
  20. ^ "Pesarattu (Green Gram Dosa)".
  21. ^ "Recipe: Light white dosa". The Times of India.
  22. ^ a b "The karam dosas from kadapa". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  23. ^ "Onion Rava Dosa".
  24. ^ "Ragi Wheat Dosa".
  25. ^ Verma, Neera. South Indian Cook Book. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 978-81-7182-836-4.
  26. ^ 27 November 2019. US presidential candidate Kamala Harris cooks masala dosas with Mindy Kaling. The Hindu. Retrieved 23 July 2023.