Masala Dosa – One of India’s Gifts to the Gastronomic World

masala dosa

Credit: bionicgrrrl

Masala Dosa is South Indian dish that is fast gaining popularity in cities all over the world. The dosa is similar to a tortilla in the sense that it is a crepe-like base where the desired filling is stacked. The dosa can be folded over like a soft taco, rolled like a burrito, or shaped like a cone – depending on the cook’s preferred presentation. The masala dosa uses potatoes and spices to fill up the dosa. It is a vegetarian dish and in 2011, it was included by CNN in the list of the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.

Begin with the Dosa

In the New York Times, David Tanis writes the article India on a Griddle: A Savory Dosa Recipe Worth the Effort, where he says: “But lately I’ve been crazy for dosas, the heavenly crisp South Indian sourdough pancakes, particularly the classic potato-stuffed masala dosa.

“When you order a dosa in a restaurant, the presentation is rather impressive. Cooked on a huge griddle, it is usually over a foot in diameter before it is curled around its fragrant spicy filling…”

The basic dosa batter contains rice flour, skinless black gram, fenugre seeds, salt, and oil. An indispensable part of making the dosa is fermenting the batter overnight so that it acquires the right texture and slightly sour flavor . Tanis adds, “The batter must be fermented overnight for the correct texture and flavor. And, to be truthful, the traditional process is a little bit fussy.

“You must first soften rice and urad dal (split husked black lentils) in a bowl of water; that takes four to six hours. Then the rice and dal are ground to a smooth paste with a blender or food processor, or an Indian wet-dry grinder, which comes in handy for other jobs. Finally, the batter is left in a warm place to ferment overnight, eight to 10 hours, until it is bubbling…”

The Masala Dosa Filling

The filling for the masala dosa makes it a vegetarian dish extraordinaire – rich, spicy, and totally substantial. In Indian Food Dosa/Dosai, Petrina Verma Sarkar shares her recipe for Masala Dosa. Her filling consists of mashed potatoes mixed with onions, ginger, green chilli, and tomato. This is liberally flavored with turmeric powder, curry leaves, pepper, mustard, urad dal, channa dal, and a pinch of asafetida. The potato mixture can be as mild or as spicy as the cook pleases, and kitchens all over the world have their own version of this dish.

Masala Dosa around the World

Mosala Dosa is fast conquering the world. In LA Weekly, Ruth Welte writes about the “5 Best Dosas in Los Angeles”. She names India Sweets and Spices, Annapurna Cuisine, Mayura, Paru’s Indian Vegetarian Restaurant, and Udupi Palace as the five places to get a good dosa fix in Los Angeles. In the UK, John Robb lists the Maharajah Restaurant in Liverpool, the Coconut Lagoon in York, the Punjab Restaurant in Manchester, and the Sagar in Londonas excellent places to go for really good masala dosa.

Matching  Masala Dosa with Wine
Traditionally, masala dosa is not served with wine; it is basically a breakfast dish. However, if you want to serve it as part of a special breakfast, you can take a cue from its curry flavor and go with Fiona Beckett’s suggestions for wines that go well with curry: a fruity rosé, an off-dry Riesling, a Pinot gris, or a Chardonnay. With or without the wine, the masala dosa is a real treat.

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