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. paatal goD, is it also made from coconut palm or palmyra palm?
      How does it remain liquid without fermenting, do they put some thing in it?
      Is it the same as jona belli?
      Is it dark brown or light yellow in color?

        1. Hi Radha, sorry for the late reply.
          I am not sure what is the genesis of paatal goD.
          methinks in the making of regular jaggery, a little salt is added to precipate the entire mix. My thoughts were that no salt was added and the melted jaggery never precipitates.

          In a pinch my grandma used to take regular jaggery, mix it in a little water and heat it to get paatal goD.

          Will be heading to india in a few weeks, will check and get back to you.

          1. I would love to know where to get, how to order authentic paatal goD .
            I’m curious how it remains as a syrup without it spoiling or fermenting?
            I would like to try it with idli or dosa. I hear in sirsi Karnataka they eat it like this.

            1. This is a common delicacy in North Kanara. We grew up slurping this stuff. Is delicious with plain uttappams. Did I mention I have a bottle flu stashed away in my basement 🙂 In the meantime, give it a try with heating jaggery and water.

              In a delicious variation, when making this, they apparently also add slices of the tender stems of the banana tree (called gabbo). Super Yummy. On my last visit, I got a can full from my cousin. Unfortunately, I finished it there and then with nothing leftover to bring back 😦


              1. Traditionally how was it stored? In a porcelain jar that is light at the bottom dark at the top? Please do a detailed post on paatal goD when you come from India. Would like to know the ways we can slurp it up too.

    2. hey i hv tried this version with a liltle twist with cabbage and was a instant hit wth me and my hubby its there in my blog archieve.

      i do hv rinds at home im gonna try it and will post it in blog.

    3. yes exactly! I can expect many of the organic ingredients to oxidize when exposed to air and other proteins to denature/degrade and turn rancid.

      Now that you mention, I will certainly go to our grocery stores and look for the whole seeds. And there is a Whole Foods next door (at work).

      BTW, if you are reading this:
      Have you seen this post of mine?

      Live Well and Have a Great Weekend!

    4. Arun, I have seen them in almost all grocery stores, depending on where you are, Safeway, Kroger, PCC, Whole foods, Fredmeyer’s…

      And I agree with the little info that is available on storing them… when someone told me about it, the only thing that made sense was:
      The nutrient oils in them go bad once ground and exposed to air. Would think it is almost similar to nuts… (they go rancid quickly when kept at room temperature Vs. storing them in the freezer ensures longer life)

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

    Connecting to %s

    Blog at

    Up ↑

    %d bloggers like this: