Friday, June 10, 2016

The Dosas of My Home-Town-In-Law

A version of this piece appeared in The Hindu.

Every year, when I head to my home-town-in-law, I have just one thing on mind – food. While the cosmopolitan nature of the town ensures you have access to the best of food from all over the country – Litti-Choka from Bihar, Puri-Aloo from UP, Rolls, Noodles, Puchka, Rasgulla & Sandesh from Bengal – it is the Dosa here that is closest to my heart, and something I long for all through the year. 
And so, hungry & tired after a 24-hour journey, the husband & I stop by at our favourite dosa cart even before we get home.

At 8:30 in the morning, the shop is overflowing with people buying Idli, Upma, Vadas, and a special variety of Dosa that is stuffed with Upma instead of the usual potato mixture (it supposedly keeps you full for longer). We park ourselves on the narrow wooden benches & look longingly at the griddle.

The griddle that is at the centre of all the action is thick & round and totally coated with batter, over which the man spreads a generous helping of onion, carrot, and beetroot mixture. He then goes on to spread the potato mix, and pours a huge ladle of oil over it. The result is a triangular dose of crispy heaven, served on a battered steel plate.

As we dig into the watery yet flavourful Sambar, the runny Dal Chutney & the perfectly golden Dosa, every minute of the year long wait for it seems worth it. 

"The Dosa arrived in Tata Nagar back in the 19th century along with its workforce from the southern states. In the last 100 years however, it has acquired a character of its own. The Dosas here are triangular & stuffed with salad apart from the potato mix, the Chutney is made with dal, not coconut; the Sambar is watery, with barely any vegetables. But one thing hasn’t changed: it still feeds the large, hungry workforce of the Steel City every morning."

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