Is it pancake? Is it crepe? Dosa (Dosai) is a unique South Indian food that is widely available in North India as well.
Dosa is a savoury dish made of fermented batter containing rice and black lentils (urad dhal). It is served with Sambar and coconut chutney. Some people add some chilli dish or pickle to the combo as well.
The main reason behind the unique taste of Dosai is fermentation. The batter is kept at room temperature for hours to ferment. Black lentils and fenugreek added in the batter mix act as fermenting agents.
There are many types of Dosas. The most popular ones in Kerala are – Masala Dosa, Paper Roast and Ghee Roast (Ney Roast).
Masala Dosa, as the name implies, is Dosai with Masala, which is Potato stuffing (sabji).
Paper Roast is super thin Dosa which is crispy and without any stuffing. In restaurants, you will find it impressively large.
Ghee Roast (Ney Roast) is just the added ghee variation of Paper Roast.
Then there are thicker versions such as Oothappam and Kal Dosa. Then there are Dosas made with other ingredients – Rava Dosa (semolina), Ragi Dosa (millet) etc. There are Dosas linked to places – Mysore Dosa, Davangare Benne and so on.
Chefs have gone quite experimental that nowadays you will
find wide variety of Dosas- Paneer, onion, cauliflower, carrot, beetroot, Palak
(spinach), egg, cheese etc.
Many people think that Karnataka district is where Dosa
started out. Some folks pin point the origin spot to Uduppi near Mysore. Uduppi
is famous for Dosai even today.
The best places to eat Dosa in Kerala are vegetarian Restaurants. Unfortunately, not all veg restaurants are alike. That is why a bit of local knowledge or info tips will come handy. Just ask some one you trust and they will be able to give you the names of best Dosa places in that particular town or area.
Restaurant chains such as Saravana Bhavan generally provide reasonably good Dosas. Indian Coffee House branches make satisfactory ones. While they don’t disappoint, they are not the best either.
Homemade Dosas are generally not as big as the restaurant ones. The main reason is the constraint of handling tawas (huge pan) in standard home kitchens. So, families, who prepare delicious Dosas at home, love to eat larger and crispier ones from restaurants as well.