Thosai, Made With Wholegrain Teff Flour

Ever since I spoke with Chef Devagi on the Singapore Noodles podcast, I’ve been dying to try my hand at making thosai with wholegrain flour. Thosai-making is an artform – the batter is naturally leavened and getting the thickness of the thosai just right takes practice. Even though my batter was not as fermented as I would like (it is so cold where we live), I found the recipe to be very forgiving and producing great, crispy results. The fenugreek seeds add a delicious fragrance, akin to maple syrup, and even though teff flour does have a slight earthy bitterness, I really enjoyed the complexity of its flavour. You can make these as thin or thick as you like – ‘paper thosai’ is paper-thin and crispy, while some prefer for thosai to be slightly thicker and spongier to soak up sambar and curries.

Teff Flour Thosai

Adapted from Devagi Sanmugam’s recipe on her Instagram account

Serves 4

105g urid dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

50g cooked rice

240g wholegrain teff flour

1 teaspoon salt

Ghee or oil, as desired

1. Combine the urid dal and fenugreek seeds in a bowl and rinse well.

2. Drain, then soak in fresh water for 4 hours.

3. Measure out 500g water from this soaking liquid. Discard the rest.

4. Blend the drained dal and fenugreek with the cooked rice and some of the reserved soaking liquid.

4. Stir in the teff flour and sufficient soaking liquid to form a thick batter that leaves a ribbon when poured (you might not use all 500g).

5. Loosely cover with a cloth and allow to ferment 8-12 hours or until the batter has doubled and has a cracked puffy surface. It should taste mildly sour. (If your batter is not properly fermented, it would still produce crispy thosai, albeit less fluffy)

6. When the batter is fermented, stir in the salt. Add a little water to thin the batter to a flowing consistency that is slightly thinner than pancake batter.

7. To fry the thosai, heat a large pan (preferably cast iron). Add a large drizzle of water – you want to see the water immediately boiling and bubbling. Wipe off the excess.

8. Turn the heat to low and add a ladle of batter to the centre of the pan. Immediately draw concentric circles from the inside to the outside of the pan.

9. Drizzle over about 1 teaspoon of ghee or oil and fry on low heat until you can see the thosai turning brown. Slide an offset spatula or fish slice under the thosai and flip over. Cook for a few seconds before transferring to a serving dish.



Pamelia Chia is a Singaporean chef and the author of the bestselling cookbook ‘Wet Market to Table’. After graduating with an Honor’s degree in Food Science and Technology from the National University of Singapore in 2014, she decided to trade a food scientist’s lab coat in for chef whites. She has since been working in restaurants in Singapore and Melbourne, including Candlenut and Carlton Wine Room. Her deepest interest being the preservation and celebration of Singaporean food heritage and culture, she started Singapore Noodles in 2020 as a platform to share about Singaporean food to a global audience. Find her on Instagram @pameliachia.

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