Surnoli: The Delicious Sweet Dosa From Goa
Image Credit: Surnoli is a sweet dosa from Goa and Mangalore.

Mention South Indian cuisine and a layman would usually think of idlis, vadas, and dosas. Dosa is a popular breakfast item from the region, made in a variety of ways and with different kinds of fillings. What is not common is a sweet version of this Indian pancake. The largely savoury dosa gets a sweet touch when it reaches Goa’s Saraswat community. And that’s how we get Surnoli.

As bright as the sun, the name quite aptly fits the appearance of the dish. Surnoli, for the unversed, is a sweet dosa made with coconut and jaggery. The yellow-coloured dosa has a porous texture which makes it look like the sun. In fact, Surnoli has often been equated with pancakes too due to its soft and spongy texture. While dosas are well-known across South Indian and are packed with a mélange of flavours, it is quite fascinating to note how the desi pancake traversed boundaries to enter the coastal areas of Goa and Mangaluru in Karnataka.

Surnoli belongs to the Saraswat cuisine of Goa. For the uninitiated, this is one of the two most important communities in the state, the other being Catholic. Many may not know this but Goa is home to a brimming Hindu community, called the Saraswat Brahmins. Since they dwelled on the Saraswati river for many years, the name stuck to them. A small community of Hindu Brahmins that thrive on seafood and poultry, it is this aspect of their cuisine that makes them distinct from others. 

While this community offers an equally delectable vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare, it is the sweet twist to the South Indian dosa that gets highlighted quite often. Surnoli is made with a combination of rice and coconut. Jaggery is what adds to the sweetness of the dish. The fluffy dish is popular in the Konkan region for breakfast. 

To make Surnoli, the rice is first soaked in water with methi. Then, poha is added to the soaked rice. This mixture is ground along with the addition of dahi, coconut, jaggery and turmeric. Once a smooth batter is obtained, it is set aside to ferment. After fermenting it for six to eight hours, pour the batter in the centre of a pan. Instead of spreading it like a dosa, let the batter flow and take its shape. It will start to show porous spots on top. This sweet dosa is not flipped like a pancake but only cooked on one side. Finally, the dosa is taken off the pan and served with mango pickle and butter.