SurnoLi: Watermelon Rice Pancakes

surnoli watermelon rice pancakes pics by Arun Shanbhag
I have a soft corner for the Konkani delicacy, SurnoLi; it reminds me of my doting grandmother in Bhatkal (Karnataka). M thinks it’s my sweet tooth.

When training for the marathon, I am uninhibited in gobbling these delicacies. But the instant I cross the finish line on Sunday, I’ll nit-pick my food and watch every calorie. But for now, lets indulge.

Creative use of watermelon whites in this recipe. Frugal, rural indians knew how to stretch their money and even their fruits. No point in wasting even the whites from the watermelon. Here in Boston, with the pathetically short summer (three months) I dice watermelon whites and store it frozen. Then we can enjoy SurnoLi all year around.

How do we make this delicacy more healthier? We added the omega-3-rich flaxseed powder, crushed pecans and the proteinaceous cashew nuts. To really enjoy the surnoLi, you need sugar cane molasses we call paatal goD or liquid jaggery. Thankfully I get a never-ending supply of this liquid gold from Kumta!


  • Soak the following in 2 cups water, overnight:
  • brown rice (1 cup)
  • phovu (thin flattened rice, 1 table spoon)

Phovu and rice after soaking. Notice how the phovu has imbibed water and looks plump; the bran from brown rice also adds nutrients to this SurnoLi!
surnoli watermelon rice pancakes pics by Arun Shanbhag

Next morning, blend the rice and phovu along with:

  • watermelon whites (3 table spoons); In winter when watermelons were not available, we have used ripe pears instead, and they work excellently
  • grated coconut (2 tsp)

Mix the following in the dough

  • paatal goD (sugar cane molasses 2 table spoon); You can substitute jaggery (or gur), but will need to add it while blending
  • flax seed powder (2 tsp)
  • crushed pecans (2 tsp)
  • cashew nuts, bits (2 table spoons)
  • salt (a pinch)
  • turmeric (half tsp)
  • water (to adjust doughy consistency)
  • Mix thoroughly and keep on the counter for 4-6 hours; perfect for evening tea.

Method: Dosas

  • Pre-heat non-stick pan.
  • Ladle out batter and lightly lay over pan in a circle.
  • Batter will flow to achieve optimum size.
  • Cook covered for two minutes on medium heat

surnoli watermelon rice pancakes pics by Arun Shanbhag

  • The traditional surnoLis are not turned over, leaving the upper side softly steam cooked.
  • Serve with paatal goD.

The rice bran, flaxseed and crushed pecan give it a nice crunchy texture, even though it is super soft. And, irresistible for seekers of nectar.
surnoli watermelon rice pancakes pics by Arun Shanbhag

Maya has posted a wonderful recipe for surnoLis, which came out nice and plump.

My other posts on PoLo and Dosas:

  • Video: Making Rava Dosa
  • Video: Making Mysore Masala Dosa
  • Phova Dosa: Beaten Rice Crepes
  • Video: Making Puran Polis
  • 45 thoughts on “SurnoLi: Watermelon Rice Pancakes

    Add yours

    1. Hi Anuvidya:

      Thank you for the tip.
      I do buy a premade flaxseed powdered meal from Trader Joes. I had read about it losing its properties, but had not read any scientific literature regarding it. We still store it in the refrigerator.

      Have not seen any whole seeds (perhaps I have not looked hard enough). Where do you get the flax seeds from?
      Will re-scan the scientific literature and also check for other sources of whole flax seed.

      Thank you much for the tip.
      and absolutely, Eat Healthy, Live Long!

    2. These are so good! Flax seeds and rice bran… just my type of cooking, healthy yet delicious. Nice job.

      Little tip, from the little I know about flax seeds πŸ™‚
      They are best stored as whole seeds in the freezer (to maintain its nutrients) and are best when ground fresh before using.
      The store bought flax seed powder/meal, tends to lose its goodness very quickly. So the mantra is, if you powder it, use it asap. Hope that helps. Since we are trying to include all the good stuff, why not get the actual nutrients from them…

    3. Im away in Bucharest right now and having “duvalo”! I feel like eating surnoli, chakko, methi polo and idli and so many other Konkani foods 😦 I know I have to wait a long time for those. In the meantime I am just happy looking at the pictures u have posted. Yummmmy!!! Thanks
      God bless you!

      arunaH uvacHa:

      Ha HA! Niyata: you have ‘duvaLo.’ That was so funny to hear!
      Sorry, Bucharest is not know for its konkani cuisine! When I rule the world – every town WILL offer Konkani cuisine!
      Till then, I am sorry. All these blogs must be torturous, then!

      Heh – I hear they still have some wonderful spicy foods.
      and thanks for visiting!

    4. Thank you Poornima (and your mom) for sharing that!

      Sugar Cane Juice and Magge sounds delicious!
      We may try it with our cucumber here. Will check with M. πŸ™‚
      and Thanks again.

    5. Just this info from mom. It seems you can prepare surnolis with sugarcane juice and magge (konkani cucumber) too.


    6. Using fruits in Dosas is something new & different to hear,
      The tips to use rice bran, flaxseed and crushed pecan to give it a nice crunchy texture is really good & can also be applied for some other recipes too i guess :-\
      will surely like to try it,moreover well photographed specially those butterflies on the dish around πŸ™‚


      Hi Vibha,
      Glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for your comment!
      yes, we have been adding a teaspoon of flaxseed to chapatti flour and it works very well;
      We like to experiment with foods, so I mix in a spoonful into my yogurt, and even in my cereal; I regularly add pecans and raisins to my cereal; strawberries or any berries in my Lassi. The list goes on.
      Oh – in the winters, we make this surnoLi with ‘pears’ instead of watermelons πŸ™‚

      Go ahead, try different options and let us know how it came out!
      And glad to liked the butterflies! That is my favorite platter! πŸ™‚

    7. Wow, yummy looking Surnoli..I like the way you have used the nuts and the flax seeds powder..My MIL uses the cashews, but have to try your version next time..You get stock of Paatal GoD everytime from India ??Lucky you..Also, thanx for linking my post here :)..

      arunaH uvacha:
      Glad you approve, Maya! and I had to link to you post, as your surnoLis were so plump and nice! :-))
      you should try with the flaxseed powder and/or pecans – I think the taste goes together well.

    8. This is a very nice recipe. I will surely give it a try some time. I also found some interesting recipes at http://hungryzone,com, may be you all can visit it.

      arunaH uvacHa:
      Thank you vidya for visiting and your comment.
      yes, your site is nice; will visit more!
      Best Wishes

    9. Thank you Sonu:
      indeed, mouth watering!

      yes, its amazing how our folks used all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the dosas;
      We were eating vegies when we thought we were eating dosas!

    10. Hi Arun,
      Mouth watering dish…:P I didn’t knw abt using Watermelon whites in Dosa. Nice info.
      Thanks Arun and M. πŸ™‚

    11. Hi Viji:

      I will certainly check with M for any squash or pumpkin recipes – pumpkins are everywhere in the stores! πŸ™‚

      Heh – if not watermelons, we have previously used ripe pears. It goes really well – give that a try!

    12. Yum,Yum A and M!! I didn’t know watermelon whites could be used in dosa. Too bad I threw all of them away when I cut a big (need less to say the last) watermelon I had on Sunday 😦 If you have any variation of dosa recipe that either uses squash or pumpkin, please do post it soon.


    13. Hi Sia:
      another surnoLi fan! Yaaay!
      yes, the pecans and cashew add a nice crunch to the surnoLi and make it healthy too.

      Loved your spicy variation! Will ask M to check it out. We are always looking for more dosa recipes! :-))

      Yes, we too need to pull out that bag from the freezer!


      – sent you mail.

    14. yummo… bk in native i would order surnali even we we went out to have breakfast, that’s how much i love this one. and ur recipe sounds really good Arun. Pecans and cashews, total yummo…
      i have this savoury version of watermelon rind dosa in my archive. my another fav. got to dig into my freezer and use that bag of frozen rinds soon…

    15. Thank you Purnima:

      we just happened to have a lot of brown rice which M wanted to finish :-))
      I don’t think phovu make too much of a difference – it is beaten rice after all. I think makes the surnoLi a little softer and fluffier.

      Nice to hear you make it regularly!

    16. That was really yummy :). Whenever we bring watermelon, surnoli goes by default. However we prepare it with white rice and without phovu. Your recipe seems bit different..


    17. Again, another mouthwatering food post. Fantastic as always!

      Did you check out my blog? I’m still getting to know WordPress, but hopefully I’ll get the hang of it.

      arunaH uvacha:
      Thank you Saroj:
      And yes, I browsed through your blog!
      WoW! within a couple of days you have populated it with lots of articles. Will need to read ‘phursat mein’. Good luck with your writing.
      You certainly have a knack – too bad it is wasted on BO!
      Haaaa hAAA!

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