Dosa is a simple, easy to make and pocket-friendly staple dish. People across our country enjoy a good dosa served with some warm sambar and cold chutney.
The origin of Dosa is still unclear to historians. According to P. Thankappan Nair, a known historian, the Dosa originated in the Udipi town of Karnataka. But on the other hand, food historian K. T. Achaya says that the Dosa was already in use in the ancient Tamil country around 1000AD as it has been mentioned in Sangam Literature. While the Tamil Dosa was thicker and softer, the thinner and crispier version was first made in Karnataka.
A recipe for Dosa can be found in the 12th century Sanskrit encyclopedia Manasollasa which was compiled by Someshvara III, who once ruled Karnataka.
In Todays time, the Dosa is linked to Karnataka because it was popularised by Udipi restaurants across the country. The dosa is a really simple dish that needs very few ingredients and time. It is high in carbohydrates and is also a good source of protein. Since it mainly consists of Rice and Black Gram, it has no sugar or saturated fats.
To prepare a Dosa, Rice and Black gram is soaked overnight and is ground into a batter and is fermented overnight. The batter is then spread evenly on a flat Tava that is greased with oil, ghee or butter. After it turns slightly brown on the underside, it is ready to be eaten.
Ideally, a Dosa is served along with Sambar and Chutney. But today's Dosas are truly customisable. Masala Dosa and Mysore Masala dosa are the commonly found options at stalls.
When Prem Ganapathy came to Mumbai as a 15-year-old boy, he had a dream to sell Dosas in America one day. He started off as a dishwasher and worked in a few kitchens across the city before opening a Dosa Stall. His business eventually took off after he started experimenting with Dosas. He started making a Chinese Dosa that was stuffed with noodles, vegetables and spicy schezwan sauce. Eventually, he came up with the brand Dosa Plaza and opened a restaurant in a mall.
People loved the varieties that Dosa Plaza had to offer. Dosa Plaza served over 100 varieties of Dosa! Soon he started franchising his business and currently, Dosa Plaza has over 45 outlets in India and also has outlets in New Zealand, Oman, UAE and Singapore! Eventually, stall owners across the country copied his recipes and started making their own variations.
Dosa is always served with Sambar but it is a lesser known fact that Sambar is not a South Indian Dish! In fact, Sambar was made in Maharashtra and it eventually made its way to south India.
While there are Dosa Stalls at literally every other street corner in Mumbai, there are a few places that serve some of the best Dosas in the city. I find myself going back to Ram Ashraya in Matunga for their scrumptious Dosas. (If you are eating here, you have to try their filter coffee! It is the most comforting Cup-Of-Joe you will ever have!)