When people are generally asked what their favourite food item is, they don’t reply in an instant. That’s because it’s not easy to arrive at one particular cuisine, let alone one dish, to call your favourite. When I went around asking people about their favourite food, I got varied response: cheese pizza, fried rice, sushi, croissant, curd rice (yes!), and nachos among many things. But you know what my favourite item is? Masala dosa. And I don’t even think for a second before giving that answer.
So what’s up with this masala dosa, that it got to be featured on Forbes’ list of ten things you must try before you die?
- It’s something I can’t live without
Yes, dosa is an existential crisis situation for me.
- It’s guilt-free healthy
You know you’ve hit it right when your favourite food also happens to be healthy. No guilt, whatsoever. I’ve binge eaten masala dosas for whole days and nothing ever happens to my mind or body.
- The taste is unparalleled
When a masala dosa is kept on a plate in front of you, crisp as paper and rolled into cylindrical shape, with oodles of ghee/butter on it and a soft potato masala filling along with a layer of red chutney paste inside, you just cannot help but wonder who came up with this insane invention. You can eat it in more ways than one depending on what you like: either by pouring sambar over it and on the sides and letting it become semi solid, or tearing and dipping each piece of the dosa along with some masala filling into the sambar mini bowl and putting the concoction into your mouth. Add some coconut chutney into the mix and you’re set for life.
Across India, one could come across masala dosas made in different styles.
There’s the typical Tamil Nadu dosa, that comes in cylindrical shape as described above, and is accompanied by a spicy dhal based sambar and three (or four) different chutneys – coconut, coriander and tomato. The potato masala filling is pretty solid.
Then there’s the Karnataka dosa, also called Mysore Masala Dosa, which is triangular and has a dollop of butter on it. There’s red chutney paste on the inside, and the masala is very slightly gooey. Accompanied by the rather sweet sambar thanks to the jaggery content in it, and a coconut and coriander chutney, it packs a punch.
Next comes the open dosa, which has a soft base made from a different batter. Cooked on one side, the masala is placed on it in a neat circular shape, with carrot and coconut gratings over it. A scoop of butter adds finishing touches to what is a dish unique to Karnataka.
99 variety dosa. This is an innovative fast food concept present in most big Indian cities now. Mostly served on food trucks in the evenings, this dosa is made using a different batter, but the filling is what makes this place unique. They mix and match any combination you ask for – sweet corn, mushroom, baby corn, gobi, noodles, paneer, macaroni and many other things you don’t normally associate with dosa. One large dosa and your dinner is done.
The Rava Masala dosa is another variant, which is made with a different batter. Unlike the usual dosa, this dosa comes with some holes, and is crispier in nature. It contains black peppers, onions and curry leaves, along with the other ingredients that make it uniquely likeable.
There are a lot more items belonging to the dosa family, like podi dosa, onion dosa, set dosa, kal dosa, neer dosa and oothappam. Some people at homes have started experimenting with the batter, adding native and organic grains to it to come up with even healthier dosas.
Now that you’ve read what I have to say, here’s a small list of my favourite dosa places you could probably go to:
- Murugan Idly Shop, Chennai.
- MTR, Bangalore.
- 99 Dosas, outside any IT park in Bangalore.
- Adyar Ananda Bhavan, Chennai and Bangalore.
- Vasudev Adigas, Bangalore.
- Hotel Nellai Saravana Bhava, Thirunelveli.
- Mylai Karpagambal Mess, Chennai.
Go thulp that dosa!
*Photos are for representative purposes only