The Great Indian Crepe-Masala Dosa
If culture could be stereotyped with food, South Indians would certainly be proud to take the cake. No, wait. Not the cake. We meant Dosa. We know that we have treaded on everyone’s favorite savory earlier, but we couldn’t resist circling back (pun intended) and introduce more flavors to this simple yet deliciously genius dish. Before we let you in on one of the absolute menu topper varieties of Dosa, let us take a look into its origin story and history to understand how this simply fried crepe became everyone’s favorite and cultural representation of South India.
While the exact birthplace of the dish is not definite, the South Indian region, on the whole, played a vital role in the story of its birth. Most of the present-day rice-based dishes such as Dosa, Idli, Puttu are mentioned in the Sangam literature and food historians claim that Dosas were already being served in the Ancient South Indian kitchens (around 1st Century AD). Some went on to note that Dosas were originally from Chola Nadu (modern-day Udipi, Karnataka). The original dosa, however, was softer and thicker before it went through some strict diet to become a lot thinner and crispier. A recipe for dosa (as dosaka) can be even found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by the Chalukya king Someshvara III, who ruled from present-day Karnataka.
Since its origin, Dosa has remained a hallmark for South Indian delicacy and often served as a base for experimenting with new flavors and toppings adding more varieties to the classic, and one of the favorite varieties being Masala Dosa. Originally from Udipi, Masala Dosa quickly made its way to every menu that had Dosa on it. It is made from rice, lentils, potato, fenugreek, ghee and curry leaves, and served with chutneys and sambar. Though the ingredients remain the same for the most part, the preparatory method to this crepe varies from city to city in the South.
Masala dosa is crispy, soft, savory and healthy crepes made with rice and lentil batter. Traditionally, it is served as a snack with sambar, dal, or curry. The dosa is gluten-free and dairy-free, with a sturdy yet soft texture that’s great for holding a hearty homemade potato filling. To make the batter, lentils and rice are soaked for several hours and then blended together. This makes a creamy and smooth batter. This rice and lentil batter is fermented overnight to create just the right tangy flavor and tender, light crepes. The batter and the filling are made separately, the batter is cooked in a crepe pan (like you would for a pancake) and the filling is scooped and layered into the dosa.
This may give you a general idea of how Masala Dosa is being made, walk into Amma’s South Indian to relish the varieties with its rich flavor and style.