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Cucumber dosa from Mangalore (Southakai dosai)

The thin Indian pancakes, called dosas come in almost unlimited variations. Most are rice and black gram batter-based but they also can be made of millet and other lentil batters. In addition, the addition of vegetables adds both flavour and texture to these batters.

Most dosa and idli (steamed rice cakes) ask for parboiled rice as the starting ingredient. So I ask the question why parboiled rice and how does it matter? Parboiled rice is steamed and dried rice in its husk. The process cooks the rice and starts the process of starch release and sugar combustion with the rice grain making the rice easier to cook later on. Most quick-cooking packets of rice in boxes on the store shelves are parboiled rice. What parboiled rice also does is make the rice starch avail available to bacteria for easier fermentation and also stresses the gut flora during digestion. As a result of the increased fermentation, the batter rises better and makes for softer and fluffier dosas and idlis. Using non-parboiled rise causes the batters to be less fermented and the dosas flatter and denser.

This is a very subtle variation that contains puréed cucumbers. The freshness of the cucumber is dominant and its mild flavour permeates every bite. The dosa has a very smooth batter so it can be made very thin and crisp. This is a lovely dosa that is quite unique in its flavour profile.

This cookbook on South Indian dosa is a very specialized cookbook from one of my favourite chefs. Every recipe is authentic and this book is written with a depth of knowledge and understanding of the different cuisines in South India. This pancake recipe, like the other dosas and adai recipes from this cookbook, makes this cookbook essential for those who enjoy this type of dish.

For more recipes from the fabulous cookbook, click here.


3 cups parboiled dosa rice

6 cups water

1 small cucumber, peeled and cubed

1 cup grated fresh coconut

2-3 green chillies

Salt, to taste

1 cup water + more as needed

Ghee or coconut oil for frying

Soak the parboiled rice in water for at least 4 hours. Drain and add to a blender. Add the cucumber, coconut, green chillies, salt and water. grind to a smooth liquid. You can adjust the water to get a thick porridge-like liquid. Run the blender for 3-4 minutes to get a very smooth batter.

Dilute the batter to the consistency of light cream. You can store the batter in the fridge for about 3 days.

To make the dosa, add a small ladle of the batter to a hot dosa pan. Starting in the center spread the batter out in concentric circles making the dosa as thin as possible. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons of the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes till you see the batter has browned well on the underside. flip and fry for 2-3 minutes to crisp the second side.

Serve immediately.

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