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Spicy dosai from Tamil Nadu (Kaara dosai)

In my mind, the dosa (also spelt dosai) is the ultimate pancake. It comes in an almost infinite number of variations from sweet to this spicy variations. The most traditional form of dosa is made from rice and black gram (urad dal) lentils, but there are variations with every other grain, lentil and millet. They can also be infused with herbs and vegetables for more variations. The most loved dosas are paper thin and crisp, but there are variations that are soft and spongy (set dosa) and thick like uttapams.

This is a variation that pops with spice. The batter is infused with dried red chillies that complement the sourness of the dosa making it pop with spice and the coconut gives it a creamy palate feel. This is the perfect dosa for those days when you crave spice and something different.

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.


1/2 cup pigeon peas (tuvar dal)

1 cup rice

8 cups water

6 dried red chillies

11/4 cups grated fresh coconut

1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

Salt, to taste

1+ cup water

1 sprig of curry leaves, sliced


Soak the pigeon peas and rice in water for 2 hours.

Drain the rice and lentils and wash them in water. Add to a blender with the coconut, asafoetida and salt and water. Grind to a slightly coarse batter that is thick.

Transfer to a bowl and add the curry leaves and mix in well. Ferment the batter at room temperature for 4-6 hours. When the batter is fermented you will see very small bubbles and smell the sourness in the batter.

Heat a dosa pan or frying pan. Add a scoop of batter to the middle and slowly spread out in a circular motion. The dosa will be thick. Add a light drizzle of oil on top and cook for 1 minute on medium heat till the bottom is browned. Flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove and fold over. Repeat with the remaining batter.

Serve hot with chutneys and vegetables.

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