Northern Indian cuisine (what most of us think of when we think of Indian food) is full of delectable but tragically wheaty breads. But India is a huge country. Have you explored Southern Indian food?

Here in Chicago, we enjoy the benefits of a thousand Indian restaurants on Devon (pronounced, inexplicably as “Dev-ON” rather than “DEVon”), many of which are Northern Indian, but there are also Pakistani, Mughlai, and Southern Indian (also vegetarian – bonus!!!) It is at one of these vegetarian Southern Indian places that we discovered the dosa. For the uninitiated, dosas are thin, crispy lentil & rice pancakes filled with various vegetabley delights. Wikipedia has a great explanation on dosas if you’re looking for more.

This weekend I decided to give the dosa a try. I had bought some urad dal, the lentils they use in the batter, the last time I was in an Indian market up north.

Urad Dal

Urad Dal

Tonight the batter was ready, so I whipped up some dosas and filled them with veggies I had on hand. The results? Pretty dern delish. Have a gander:

Dosa with Kale & Spaghetti Squash Filling


  • 3/4 c. uncooked basmati rice
  • 1/4 c. urad dal
  • salt to taste
  • water
  • veggie oil or ghee

Soak the rice and the dal in separate bowls of water overnight. The next day, drain the rice and place in a blender with approximately 1/4 cup of fresh water (or whatever it takes for your blender to properly grind the rice to a smooth paste). Do the same with the dal, using slightly less water. Combine the rice paste and the dal paste into one bowl and mix with 1 1/2 cup water. Cover lightly and let sit out on counter overnight.

The next day, add salt to taste and enough water so that the batter is very thin and has the consistency of 1% milk when it pours. Heat a nonstick frying pan with some ghee or oil on high. With a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the pan and swirl the pan so the batter covers the entire bottom in a thin film. Cook until bottom is golden brown and crispy (no soft crepe wannabes). No need to flip – dosas are usually only cooked on one side.

Dosa with Veggie Goodness

South Indian Flatbread: Dosa with Veggie Goodness

Kale & Spaghetti Squash Filling

  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a spaghetti squash
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale
  • 1″ piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1-2 hot green chilis
  • veggie oil or ghee
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lube lightly with olive oil. Turn face down in a pyrex dish and bake for 30 minutes.

With 5 minutes remaining on the clock for the squash, heat oil or ghee in a large pan. Slice onions into thin strips and saute. Add garlic and chilis, saute. Add ginger and spices, saute for another minute. Slice the kale into thin strips and add to the mix. Saute until slightly limp. When the squash is done, remove from the oven and flip over the halves. With a fork, tease out the spaghetti strings and add them to the kale filling. Salt to taste and fill the dosas, folding them into thirds, kind of like a cannoli. Serve with hot Indian chutneys of your choice, plus a little yogurt to cool the fire.