Blog post by Anupama Ramanarayan
Not all battles are fought on battle fields, and not all victories lead to thrones. Read on to know more 😀
Hurrayyyy! I did it (taking a bow in front of an imaginary audience). No, that wasn’t because I got into IIT or IIM (Kharagpur or Ahmedabad, respectively. Of course). Oh, maybe on second thoughts you wouldn’t be that wrong! This victory was not lesser than those. This victory is my first unbroken, turned-and-cooked-completely Dosa. (10,001 TamBrahms sigh collectively at the mere vision of their favourite thing. (Ok, second favourite, after thayir saadam.)
Now, for a TamBrahm, the dosa is almost everything from a perfect breakfast to a quick snack on-the-go to break-up food. That is the whole reason this post is devoted to the dosa.
Let’s get to the history of the humble Dosa which graces the dining tables of almost all the South Indians, some of the North Indians, and many of the complete Indians at breakfast, lunch, dinner, in-between etc. Dosa: Rice pancake made out of a batter of rice and pulse (urad for the hindi types) in a God-knows-what ratio. Some people also add semolina to ostensibly make the pancake crisper, but I believe it is just to complicate things.
But, this is not a chronicle of the Dosa’s travel through time and ages. It is the story of my journey into the dark annals of the kitchen, battles with stubborn rice dough which sticks to frying griddles and the conquest. Maybe I am the stuff super hero(in)es are made of !
Scene 1: Early morning. Sunday. I woke up earlier than usual because I was nervous. About making dosas for breakfast. As I entered the kitchen, I secretly cursed all the times that I fought with my mother and gave my ubiquitous no-time excuse for not cooking at home. Here I was, nervous for the first time in my life. Never known to be nervous at debates, elocutions and quizzes, I was nervous in the kitchen. I guess debates are easier, everyone talks back in a human language. Kitchen appliances are equally mutinous, but in an underhand sort of way. Way difficult to tackle, you see.
Anyway, I pulled out the batter (no, I didn’t grind it) out of the refrigerator, heated the griddle and began with the first attempt. Clumsily taking a spoon full of the batter, I spread it flat on the griddle, and waited for 5 minutes staring into space and reminiscing about my other super hero(in)e exploits. I got a faint burning smell and was immediately made aware of three things:
- I had not oiled the griddle before spreading the batter.
- I had not brandished the contraption required to turn the insane looking thing face down.
- I had forgotten to turn the gas to a low flame.
I did the last two in that order (again wrong, should have turned the gas flame down first). And then began the arduous task of turning the by-now-ugly-looking pancake. I poured oil around its sides liberally, so much so that it dripped down the griddle to the sides of the cooking range. I attacked the pancake with the contraption mentioned. I was surprised at the tenacity of the thing. ( I don’t know what else to call it). I took a deep breath, transformed myself into a superhero(ine) and put it under seige again. This time I attacked from north, south, east and west, in true keeping with historical battle plans. (My war cry was “Narayana!!!” I never thought anyone apart from my paati could shout His name with so much fervour. Of course, I was wrong).
The thing surrendered, but in approximately six big pieces and innumerable smaller pieces. I had a triumphant smile. Well, I mutilated the enemy at least.
Around a minute from the first battle of Dosa-land, I in all wisdom, took griddle off the burner, washed it clear of the batter-stains of the previous battle, and placed it on a lit burner again. A second battle ensued. But this time the enemy yielded in approximately 3 pieces. Reduced by half, I excitedly calculated. Two more battles later, the enemy conceded, and there were no more mutilations.
When the time for breakfast came, I quickly hid the casualties of the battles, and served the voluntarily acceded territories, the result was appreciated, my warrior skills honed and sharp to the mutinies of the kitchen.
Phew….to all of you who are in the process of attempting dosas, they are stubborn and have a mind of their own. Give them their time and they shall accede to you. It took me five battles and half an hour of sweat drenching hard work. To some lucky ones, it shall be less. To some unfortunate ones, it shall be more. May Ummachi be with you in all your endeavours.