Thavala Dosai| Traditional Tamilnadu Dosa With Home-Made Ready Mix

Thavala Dosai, an ancient recipe from Tamilnadu, refers to a unique kind of dosa. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, Thavala Dosai is a delicious treat made using rice and mixed lentils. Today, I’m going to share with you all my family’s recipe for this beautiful dosa.

Thavala Dosai, beautifully rustic and very delicious!

A closer look at Thavala Dosai

Rice and mixed lentils are ground together with dry red chillies to a consistency like that of rava. This dry mix can be stored for months together, and used to make Thavala Dosai whenever needed. The mix travels well too, and our ancestors indeed used to carry some along when they stepped out of home for an extended period of time. The broken rice and lentils that are used in it give the dosa a wonderful, rustic look and an interesting texture.

When one wants to make Thavala Dosai, curd and water is added to the dry mix to hydrate it, along with some other ingredients to add flavour. The curry leaves, curd, coconut, slivers of ginger and chillies going into it elevate the taste to a whole new level. A simple tempering of mustard seeds and asafoetida also goes in, and the batter that gets ready is allowed to rest for a couple of hours. Traditionally, the batter used to be cooked in a special type of utensil called ‘Thavalai‘ in Tamil, which is where this dosa gets its name from. However, it is also possible to make it in a kadhai or any deep pan.

#LusciousLentils at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. This is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme for this week is #LusciousLentils, wherein members are showcasing different types of dishes made using lentils. I chose to share this recipe for Thavala Dosai – an all-time family favourite – for the theme.

Poonam, the very talented blogger at Annapurna, suggested the theme for the week. Poonam’s blog has some wonderful recipes from Indian as well as world cuisine. I’m awed by the One-Pot Mexican Quinoa that she posted a few days back!

How to make Thavala Dosai

I understand different families have slightly different ways of making Thavala Dosai. The version I have shared here is the way we do it in our family.

Ingredients (makes about 10 pieces):

To make the mix:

  1. 2 cups idli rice
  2. 1/8 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoon chana dal
  3. 1/8 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoon toor dal
  4. 1/8 cup urad dal
  5. 5-6 dry red chillies

For making the adai:

  1. 1 cup of the prepared adai mix
  2. Salt to taste
  3. 1/2 cup curd
  4. 1 cup water or as needed
  5. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. 3/4 tablespoon oil + more as needed to make the dosas
  8. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  9. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  10. 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut


1. Take the idli rice, chana dal, toor dal and urad dal together in a mixer jar. Add in the dry red chillies too. Grind these together to a slightly coarse powder resembling semolina (rava). Keep this powder in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use as required.

Top left: Step 1, Bottom left: The consistency of the ground mix, Right: Adding salt to the mix

2. The night before you plan to make the dosa, soak the mix. Take 1 cup of the mix in a large mixing bowl. Heat 2 cups of water till it comes to a rolling boil, then add it to the mix. Mix well together. Cover and let it soak overnight.

3. About 2 hours before you make the dosa, add in the curd and mix well. Cover and let soak again.

4. Just before making the dosa, add about 1-1/2 cups of water or as needed to make a slightly thick batter. Peel the ginger and chop finely, adding it to the batter. Chop the curry leaves finely too, and add to the batter, along with the grated coconut. Make a tempering with 1/2 tablespoon oil, mustard and asafoetida – add this to the batter too.

Getting the batter ready

5. Place a large kadhai on high flame, and let it heat up. Then, pour about two ladles of the prepared batter into the pan. Reduce the flame to low-medium, and drizzle some oil all around the dosa. Let the dosa cook on low-medium heat, covered, till it gets brown on the bottom, 5-6 minutes. Then, gently loosen the dosa from the bottom and flip it over. Let it cook on the other side, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Insert a skewer into the centre of the dosa to check doneness. When done, transfer the Thavalai Dosai to a serving plate. Serve hot, with chutney or any other accompaniment of your choice.

Making the Thavala Dosai

6. Prepare Thavalai Dosai from all the batter, in a similar manner, as and when needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. Don’t grind the rice and lentils to a fine powder. It should have a slightly coarse consistency.

2. Use sour curd to hydrate the batter, for best results.

3. I have used idli rice here. Boiled rice can be used instead, too. You can also use a mix of raw rice and idli rice (or boiled rice).

4. I have used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can adjust this as per your spice preferences. You can even add finely chopped green chillies to the batter if you so prefer – I usually avoid them.

5. Do not use too much curd or water in the batter. The batter needs to be slightly thick, to be able to make the dosas easily.

6. Use a heavy-bottomed pan or kadhai to make the Thavala Dosai.

7. Make sure you cook the dosa on low-medium heat, covered, so it gets cooked evenly.

8. There is no need to wash the rice and lentils before grinding them together. The intention is to keep the mix dry so it stays well for a couple of months at least. If you get ample sunlight, you can wash the rice and lentils thoroughly, then let them dry completely in the sunlight, spread out on a cotton cloth, before grinding them together.

9. We use a 4:1 ratio for idli rice to lentils. So, for 2 cups of idli rice here, I have used 1/2 cup of mixed lentils. The proportion of toor dal and chana dal is higher, and very little urad dal is used.

10. Make sure the dosa is well-cooked before removing it from the pan. Do the skewer test to check doneness.

11. Be gentle while flipping over the dosa, as it breaks easily.

12. Idli rice refers to a fat variety of rice that yields beautiful, soft idlis. It is commonly available in most grocery shops in Bangalore.

13. Skip the curd if you want to make a vegan version of this Thavala Dosai. Skip the asafoetida for a gluten-free dosa. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a greater or lesser extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can get 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!


20 thoughts on “Thavala Dosai| Traditional Tamilnadu Dosa With Home-Made Ready Mix

  1. These traditional heirloom recipes are absolutely delicious and very handy in the form of pre mixes . Our ancestors were smart to have introduced us to these kind of ready mix even before they were commercially launched.


  2. I am in love with this recipe. Making a premix of rice and lentils and then using it in making instant dosa is just brilliant. Such a wholesome breakfast dish !


  3. Such a lovely traditional dosa recipe Priya. The rice and lentil mixture actually looks the handvo mixture. Wondering if I could use that as that mixture too has rice, toor, chana and a bit of urad dal.


  4. At the first glance i thought it was handvo. Traditional recipes are so healthy and delicious. Making Pre mix is a brilliant idea. Saves so much time. Would love to try this sometime.Dosa looks crsip.


  5. Loved this regional thavala dosai Priya, If this dosa mix is ready then we can prepare it easily. Like that crispy taste of dosa, adding fresh grated coconut also gives good taste to dosa. I dā€™t want any chutney, just like to eat as it. Bookmarking to try sometime.


  6. Such a easy way to prepare the premix. No soaking and it takes hardly 5 minutes . Our ancestors are surely very smart enough to use all techniques which we claim is modern. BTW crispy thavala dosa looks so inviting.


  7. Thavala Dosai sounds so delicious and wholesome ! Quite interesting though as I saw and heard this for the first in your post. Will try sometime sure Priya !


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