Dosas are different things to different people. Do-Shah to the Malayali, Do-Sigh to the Tamil and, oddly enough, the phonetically-perfect Do-Sa to the Punjabi. Even language, as it were, seems to acknowledge their adaptability.
Dosas, however, are many things rolled into one (pun intended). They can be plain or stuffed. They can be laughably small (the splendid banana Dosas at Park Sheraton’s Dakshin are not much bigger than medallions) or formidably large (an honestly-sized family dosa should always extend over both sides of your table).
Most often, of course, Dosas are your regulated, standard-issue, newspaper-like roll-up. But they can also come in pretty much any shape you can imagine. There are ones which stands bolt upright and are shaped like a cone, rabbit or cat.
Dosas, come in a myriad of other forms. You can pack them with panner — as any good Punjabi will tell you. You can load them with kheema — ask any good old-fashioned carnivore. If you are unconcerned about cholesterol levels, you can mix them with egg. You can even drizzle cheese on them.
Viewed in an inter-personal context, Dosas are accommodating, amenable, responsive, hospitable. Located in a secular matrix, they are truly pluralist. And in literary terms, they are capable of weaving numerous complex narratives under a common theme.
Restaurants in Chennai and elsewhere have woken up to the versatility of the dosa. Until fairly recently, the `plain’ and the `masala’ constituted your restaurant staple with the odd rava or pesarattu thrown in for variety. Now, they come with the most surprising and unexpected of fillings. Lets just go and try the various types of Dosas on offer!!
- Dosas at Sangeetha Lunch home on the way to airport is the best place visited by self till date for Dosas.The Dosas are just perfect.They have the right ghee ( as opposed to so called roasted Dosas for fitness freaks), and the potato stuffing is just right without chillies.The coconut chutney is just excellent.Do you know that the calories in a dosa and in the accompanying coconut chutney are the same!!.So next time, if you wish to control your weight, eat either of the two i.e. either the dosa or the chutney.Actually, coconut chutney is also a dish which goes bad pretty quickly.Hence, although delicious, it is best avoidable on official/personal trips as the chances of getting a stomach infection run very high with this chutney.Murugun Idly shop dosas come a close second to this place.
- Try the Dosas at a restaurant opposite the Chennai railway station ( I forget the name of the restaurant).The Dosas are lovely, smooth and well done. For take-away, they roll them up in light green banana leaves and keep the chutney in folds.
- Sarvana Bhawan do not live upto the expectations. The Dosas are generally sloppy and at times have uncooked blind spots.The thickness also at times is uneven and they lack consistency.The chutney problem is the same.Highly avoidable.
- The bylanes of Meenakshi temple in Madurai are lined with small eateries serving excellent Dosas at real value for money.Simply prepared, the potato fillings is generally smoothered with ghee. The waiter would like blankly into your face if you order a dosa with no/less ghee. They have never seen a city bumpkin asking for ghee-less dosa.
- Sagar Ratna in Delhi is highly overrated. It is highly inconsistent with its potato fillings and quantity of ghee.Although the line of anxious customers standing outside never fails to amuse me.Naiyvedayam at Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi serves lovely Dosas with great chutneys.
- In Mumbai, there are plethora of eateries in Matunga serving dosas. But nothing is exceptional. All are good not great, can fill up your stomach but that’s it. Kamat at Fort does a reasonably good job. But overall, nothing to die for.
- Chutneys in Hyderabad is shaping out nicely. They have great variety of Dosas and I love their pessaratu ( funnily a Dosa with a Upma filling). This is a double treat for me as I love upma. They also serve lovely set Dosas.
- You would wonder that why did I leave out MTR in Bangalore. For starters, its way too heavy.The waiter never agrees or obeys my humble request for less oil or ghee or butter or whatever. The dosa comes soaked in ghee and if you have for breakfast, your lunch goes for a toss.
- I hate rawa dosa with liberal sprinklings of black pepper. I have time and again at many eateries requested them to avoid the solid black pepper, but for some unknown reason, they seem to be fascinated with that form.I have on many ocassions, removed diligently each and every black pepper corn and finally savoured the rawa dosa.
- The best egg dosa is available many feets above ground, literally. You need to go to mall road, Shimla for that. Go to Indian Coffee House and order the egg dosa. The old wobbly waiter would bring the dosa after ages, but its well worth the wait.