the versatile dosa comes of age

In Food on August 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm

One of my principle grouses when I moved to Bangalore, was the bland food on offer from the street vendors. Every big city that I had been to, I have fond memories of vendors dishing out their kebabs, chats or the kotthu-parrotas of the south.  Bangalore was different.  I had to search far and wide, but nothing came close to the big metropolitan fanfare.

Until recently that is.  I was making a dash to the local restaurant at HSR Layout to pick up dinner for the kids.  I was lucky to find a parking lot for myself but was surprised that the other cars parked there had passengers in them.  I presumed that the smiling faces were enjoying the McDonald’s paneer tikka burgers.  I could see from the parking lot, that the McDonald’s that was nearby was packed with people on a Saturday.  But the folks in these parked vehicles were enjoying something else being dished out by a street vendor close at hand.

There was an open auto-rickshaw on the sidewalk.  The milling crowd was unusually vocal and boisterous.  I had to know what drew everybody there.  I had to nudge my way through.  i was hit with the aroma and a sizzle of melting butter that I can only explain as other worldly.

There were six flaming stoves that were being tended by a man with a small electric fan.  A quick check by tracing the twisted wire confirmed to me that a 12 volt battery from underneath the auto-rickshaw driver seat, was powering this contraption and a couple of CFL lightbulbs dangling from the makeshift canopy.


A slight cold drizzle added to the magic of the moment.  I was given a token with a hand scrawled numeral that either looked like a ‘2’ or a ‘5’ depending which way you held it and how soon you wanted your dosa!  I was eager to claim ‘2’ but was outsmarted by a mean looking lady.  I resigned my fate to the numeral ‘5’ which seemed quite far from the ‘2’ somebody snatched away from me.

There were two cooks that were super busy at their task.  They scooped up the dosa batter and poured it on the hot iron pan.  They then swirled a round bottom spoon to get a super thin layer, that will form the dosa layer.  On top of this went assorted ingredients, like onions, masala, grated beetroot, grated carrot, potatos, baby corn, capsicum, mushroom and even noodles!  We all love Chinese food around here.

I looked around and quickly grasped the fact that the Mysore Masala Dosa was the most in demand.  I ordered the same.  I liked the color of the grated beetroot and the regular sound of the flat spoon against the iron tawa.  This reminded me of the fantastic rhythms of the kotthu-parrota makers of tamil nadu.  After what seemed to be ages, I finally got my mysore masala dosa.  It was hot and it was tasty.  The dosa has been transformed to a very impressive tasty bite.  I managed to take a picture of one customer almost losing his patience and wondering when they will serve him his dosa.

I later found out that this is a franchise of five such dosa camps around the city.  The proprietor Hemanth, modeled it after the food fare of Mumbai railway stations.   ‘My menu is simply what you get in gullies surrounding railway stations in Bombay’  he says.  His 36 verieties of dosas make for a very exciting menu.  It is amazing what he has done to the humble dosa.  You must give it a try!

  1. When I look at your pictures I feel my mouth watering.Whenever I go out I eat dosas.They are my favourite.I too live in bengaluru and I eat at dosa camp in uttarahalli.

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