masala dosa

Spiced potato in rice and lentil crepes, or masala dosa, are one of life’s great joys. They are a south Indian specialty and a most popular street vendor snack. They also make a great first course for a meal.

Masala dosa are listed at number four on the Huffington Post’s “Ten Foods to Try Before You Die“. And with good reason, I suggest.

This is a common afternoon snack. It is available from street vendors and is also made in the home. It is a quite easy recipe, but there is an overnight process required to make the batter. Technique is important, too. This is discussed in our dosa recipe.

When making this dish, I usually make the spiced potato mix first then keep it warm whilst I make the dosa. As the dosa finish, spoon the potato mix in, fold and serve immediately with your favourite chutney.

Keep this spiced potato mix in mind. This “smashed potato with spices” is going to reappear in this book. Variations of this are a dish on its own, samosas and potato bhaji. This is a very common part in a lot of south Indian cooking.

A word on chutney. Please, please don’t use store-bought sweet chutneys. Go to the bother of making your own to go with this dish. A few minutes preparation and a little time cooking some tempered oil and you could have fresh coconut or coriander chutney, which are ideal accompaniments. A dish this good deserves better than mediocre sweet chutney.

the recipe

preparation:10 mins
cook:45 mins
total:55 mins
servings:6 servings
calories:178 kcal


for the filling

for the dosa

  • 4 cups idli batter(see recipe)
  • 1 tsp salt(if not already added to batter)
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil


  • Place potato into a steamer, sprinkle with salt  and steam for 15 minutes, until just cooked.
  • Remove from heat and rinse under cold water to remove excess salt and to stop the cooking process.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy based pan and add the mustard seeds, onions, curry leaves and green chilies and fry over high heat until the onions soften.
  • Add the turmeric and mix well.
  • Add the potatoes and mix well to combine with the onion and spice mix.
  • Add the water and let mixture simmer for about three minutes. Use the mixing spoon to crumble the potato as it cooks. You don’t want to mash the potato, but just break up the larger pieces.
  • Remove from heat, set aside and keep warm.
  • Add water and salt if not already added to the fermented batter and stir gently until you have a smooth, pouring consistency.
  • Heat a griddle or pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with water and wipe with a wet cloth to reduce surface temperature.
  • Lightly grease or brush pan with the oil. Ladle ½ cup of batter to the centre of the pan.
  • Using the back of the ladle gently spread the batter with a circular motion from the centre towards the outside of the pan. You will end up with a series of rings or a spiral, some parts thick, some thin.
  • Drizzle or brush 1 teaspoon of oil around the edges of the dosa and add a few sprinkles on the top.
  • Turn heat up to high. After one or two minutes, the edge of the dosa will start to come off the pan. Keep cooking until you can see the browned surface of the dosa through the thin parts. Once browned, use a spatula to gently lift the dosa and flip it over. Cook the other side for another 30 seconds or so and remove from pan. Set aside and keep warm whilst you cook the remaining dosa.
  • Spread the potato filling in the middle of the dosa, fold over and serve.


  • This recipe assumes you have idli or dosa batter to hand. If not, you will need to start this recipe the day before to make the idli batter.
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