Hot tawa on the stove.
Sprinkle water on it.
The tawa comes to life with a hissing sound signalling its ready for whatever is coming its way.
Take a scoop of rice batter, spread it by moving the ladle in a circular motion around the tawa evenly.
Let it simmer. Pour a teaspoon of oil evenly around it.
Roll it up using a spatuala and serve hot!
Wikipedia would have you believe that dosa is a fermented crepe made of rice batter, but that is a very crude way of putting it. Dosa is this crisp pancake, hot from tawa sometimes roasted with butter and sometimes with ghee. The aroma of the ghee or butter filling your nostrils before your eyes find sight of the golden brown dosa. Served with sambhar and chutney, it is paradise on your plates.
Dosa is a staple food item in South India, and a much sought after dish all over India. People coming down to south for vacation throng the many eateries to get a taste of authentic south Indian dosa. Dosa comes in many types and flavours. You have the normal dosa, with nothing but ‘healthy’ written all over it. Then you have the ghee roast or butter roast for children and lesser health conscious people and then there is paper roast. Paper roast got its name from the fact that its is as thin as paper and very crisp. The manner of serving is also interesting, as in almost all of the restaurants it is served in the form of an inverted cone! Kids love this one and enjoy digging into it.
And the king of all dosas is perhaps the Masala dosa. The masala dosa is all seven heavens rolled into one. Apart from the regular dosa, a spicy chutney is spread over it (much like spreading sauce over pizza, but this is optional) potato and other veggies are cooked to form masala which is then placed in the middle of the dosa, rolled and served. The masala dosa’s name and fame have reached as far as New York. The NY Dosa cart, winner of 2007 vendy Award is pretty famous for its Pondicherry Dosa, which is more or less like a masala dosa. The cart seems to be doing good business attracting both the Indian diaspora as well the locals.
Walk into any restaurant serving South Indian cuisine, dosas take up considerable space in the menu. Many of the restaurants in Puducherry have established their own authentic dosa types. The most famous would be the family dosa of Hotel Jayaram. You might have heard of the quote “A family that eats together, stays together”, the family dosa of Hotel Jayaram is the best way to do it. This 6 ft long dosa (also available in 4 ft) can easily serve a family of 6 and its really an experience in itself to be eating a dosa almost as big as yourself.
Other restaurants are not far behind in stamping their unique identity either. Be it the ghee roast served at Rasam, a unit of Sri Krishna Sweets, or the paper roast of Surguru. They never fail to bring your taste buds alive with different flavours. Not one sad face has left these places after they have had their favourite dosa. Adyar Ananda Bhavan is yet another commonly visited place by many non Tamilians, and guess what is their first choice of order. Yes! It is dosa. Every table has at least one variety of dosa on it being eagerly devoured. There are several new innovations and adaptations for dosas in these places. Some of them are cheese dosa, gobi dosa, palak dosa, paneer dosa, cabbage dosa etc.
After having talked so much about dosa, it would be a crime not to mention the chutneys and sambhar. For there is no dosa without its accompanying chutneys and sambhar. The sambhar prepared for dosa is a tad bit different from the sambhar that we have for lunch. Its thicker, a little sweet and mostly has red pumpkin in it. And the chutneys come in three flavours and tricolour. There is the coconut chutney in white, the onion chutney in orange and the coriander chutney in green. Restaurants like Saravan Bhavan, serve upto five different chutneys and a sambhar with their dosa. Apart from the three mention above, there is a tomato and onion chutney and a spicy garlic one too!
Simple, tasty and healthy – that’s what defines dosa. Do not over fret over the fact that its rice which means more carb! Dosas can also be made with whole wheat, ragi and rava. Or you can have pesarattus, an Andhra specialty, made from green gram flour. It is like dosa but with a telugu cuisine flavour. They are as tasty as any dosa and more healthy. So what are you waiting for, go to your nearest restaurant and dig in!