It can be crispy and brown or white and fluffy. It can be dipped into a spicy lentil gravy or garnished with some mint chutney.
For some, it is comfort food and for others it is an indulgence.
Either way, dosas seem to be a favourite snack of UAE residents. And so at Gulf News, we headed out to discover different types of dosas while - and this is important - satiating our palettes.
What is dosa?
It can look similar to a crepe. The batter, however, is vastly different. Dosa batter is made of rice and urad daal (split and dehusked black gram lentil). A certain proportion of the two is mixed together to make the batter - usually, it's four measures of rice and two measures of daal. This is soaked in water for eight hours straight. Once the grains become soft, they are run into a stone grinder to be made into a paste. The batter itself is left to ferment for eight to ten hours – depending on the season. [In summer, fermentation is quicker;in winter, the process takes a bit longer.] You know the batter is fermented when it puffs up inside the utensil.
Just as mankind has seen an evolution of times – food has witnessed a change too. And so have the tools used to make it. The dosa grinder, I can say from experience, has become more user friendly and easy on the arms.
My childhood was spent watching my mother grinding the lentils into a paste with her hands. A wet grinder was traditionally manual. It consisted of a grinding stone with a hollow base where the grains would be poured into. A certain amount of water would be added to this hollow pot. A rotator made of stone was placed on the stone to grind the grains into a paste. This is a very elaborate affair; it typically took about two hours to prepare the paste needed.
These days, it's much less stressful. Electric wet grinders have replaced traditional stone.
A classic dosa is plain or with ‘masala’ devoid of any other ingredients besides the black gram daal and rice. The masala dosa comes with a ball of potato paste placed in the dosa's centre during the preparation. The wrap is served with lentil gravy and chutney. But as people from different states mixed and mingled over the years and cusines were tapped and tweaked, the way of making, ingredients and types have undergone a diversification process. Today, you can easily find keema dosas, paneer dosas, mushroom dosas, zini dosa and an Oman chips dosa - only for Gulf residents.
Neer dosa (Dh12), benne dosa (Dh11) at Hari Prasad Pure Vegetarian Restaurant
Neer dosa literally means water dosa in Tulu language. The crepe is made of a rice batter and is typical of Mangalorean cuisine. Benne, on the other hand, is butter and as the name suggests this dosa is served with a generous serving of butter. Both are served with chutney and lentil gravy. The sambar or the lentil gravy is a tad sweet and those who like their spice levels to be low would love this. You can always ask for a spicy chutney to compensate for this if you are a spice lover. The staff are very friendly, they will never say no.
Classic plain dosa (Dh12.75) at Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR)
We also tried a snack at the ever so popular Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) in Bur Dubai. I took a dig at their plain dosa (Dh12.75) and it was marvelous. Personally, I am a fan of a classic plain dosa always. Added to this their sambar and chutney, which had the right amount spice levels for my palette.
Zini dosa (Dh28), Omani chips dosa (Dh25) and Paneer manchurian dosa (Dh28) at Yummy Dosa
For those who think out of the box and like to beat the norm when it comes to eating a classic dish try the dosas at Yummy dosa restaurant.
Don’t miss their zini dosa (Dh28). It is served like a platter of sushi. There is a rich serving of grated cheese topping and a red-based sauce with veggies. It is a complete dish in itself what with the generous serving of cheese and vegetables.
Their Omani chips dosa (Dh25) is a whole different take to what traditionally dosa has been. Like me, if you have grown up in the UAE, you understand the importance of Oman chips cheese and tobasco, and when someone gives it a twist with a dosa crepe, it takes fusion to an all new level. Don’t miss this it will bring a flood of childhood memories for some.
Peas masala dosa (Dh11.25), cauliflower masala dosa (Dh11.25), Palak (spinach) dosa (Dh11.25) at Saravanaa Bhavan.
Ghee masala dosa (Dh15) at Sangeetha vegetarian restaurant. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter and this one tastes great here. My personal favourite is the Podi dosa (Dh12.50) as it takes me back to my childhood. Podi is a special spicy powder sprinkled on the dosa. For added taste, a spoon of gingery oil to the powder does wonders.
There are other options here Onion dosa (Dh12), Rava dosa – made of semolina (Dh12.50), Paperroast (Dh19). Or even the Uthappam versions – like Tomato uthappam, onion uthappam and others.