Saturday, February 23, 2013


I have a new food love, and its name is dosa.

Dosa are these amazing pancake/crepe things made from a rice and black lentil batter that's been fermented. They taste sort of like an amazing, buttery, crispy sourdough pancake. If you get a plain dosa it comes with sambar (a saucy vegetable stew) and coconut chutney. Masala dosa comes stuffed with yummy spiced potatoes and a red chile paste (apparently this is largely a Bangalore thing- the red chile paste, not the masala dosa!), and sambar and chutney. Set dosa, which are particularly popular here in Karnataka, are pretty much just like pancakes in texture (ie not thin and crispy on one side), come with chutney and a different vegetable stew, flavored with turmeric and no tomatoes. Onion dosa come loaded with sweet purple onions, and yes, chutney and veg stew.

I'd had dosa before coming here to Bangalore, though not often. My favorite Indian restaurant in Harvard Square served them at their Sunday brunch, but the line was long, and I often just skipped them. Honestly, the dosa I've had in the US have been fine, but not great. Not the kind of dosa you might find yourself dreaming of at night. Not that I know anything about that, mind.

But when we got here and I had dosa in India my whole perspective changed (side note: it also sort of changed about spicy food. Now I just accept that my mouth will be burning to some degree while I'm eating, and that when I'm done I'll have some curd or plain rice and it will go away). I love and adore dosa. I think I'd eat them every day if I could. In fact, I'm going to have dosa for dinner tonight, and then again for breakfast in the morning before we fly to Kochi. I'm giddy at at the thought of having dosa two meals in a row!

What I am not giddy about is returning to the land of sub-par dosa. It has become abundantly clear to me that I'm going to have to learn to make dosa upon our return, and quickly. My friend Tiju recommended that I buy a dosa pan before we leave, but what I'm more concerned about is a grinder. Traditional dosa are made by soaking or parboiling rice and urad dal and then grinding them into a smooth batter. I've started reading up on this a bit, and the consensus seems to be that the only American appliance that might be up to the job is a Vitamix. I know folks who swear by theirs, so I might go that route, but those suckers are $300-400, and while I can't put a price tag on my devotion to dosa, $300 would buy you one heck of a dosa around here.

Actually, once I typed that I had to do the math. $300 would buy you 1000 plain dosa or 820 masala or set dosa at our favorite place. I wonder how long it would take me to make and eat 1000 dosa? Not in a food race kind of way, just in the course of normal life. Hmmm.

If you have tips, recipes, or recommendations for making dosa, I'm all ears! It really is one of the best foods in the entire world. My friend Aaron says they're kind of like buttery Indian burritos, and I think the comparison is apt, especially since burritos are another of my all time favorite foods. In fact, I'm generally a fan of foods that are their own (edible) containers. So helpful and delicious. 

1 comment:

Anu said...

hey, good to know that you like the dosas so much! Yeah you'll definitely need a mixer grinder to make the about buying a mixer here and taking it back to the US? Maybe that'll turn out a little less expensive?

Did you try the masala dosa at CTR? You really must before going back, especially since you love them so much!