Masala Dosa Crazy! The Day I Worked in a Typical Indian Restaurant

Masala Dosa Crazy!  The Day I Worked in a Typical Indian Restaurant

Ever since my friend TT took me to the Airlines Hotel in Bangalore for my first masala dosa I have been coo coo for masala dosas.  I can’t really explain why but I now have an odd obsession with this food and crave one almost every single day…though thankfully I don’t give in to my craving that often.  So I figured what better way to feed the obsession than to go on an adventure into a typical Indian restaurant and learn exactly what goes into creating this yummy treat.

I’m hot and sweaty but oh-so very VERY happy eating my masala dosa. Yum yum!!!

The diversity of restaurants here in India is wonderful.  There are mobile street stalls that are no bigger than a couple square meters where you can grab a quick snack; there are decadent restaurants that rival the hottest spots in Paris.  And there are fantastic, typical street side restaurants that serve “fast food” downstairs –which basically means that you go to a counter and place an order, pay, walk to another counter to pass off your ticket to the kitchen.  Then, once your food is done, you eat it standing up at one of a dozen counters there in the front of the restaurant.  A lot of these places also have quaint and lovely dining rooms with service upstairs, like the fantastic vegetarian restaurant New Krishna Sagar where I was being put to work for a couple of hours as a cook.  This is where we were: http://maps.google.co.in/maps/place?q=New+Krishna+Sagar++bangalore+hbr+layout++560043&hl=en&cid=8028927552586947604

You have to try the masala dosas from New Krishna Sagar restaurant…they are THE BEST!!!

I have to set the scene for you because it’s still funny to me.  This opportunity to work as a cook came up quite spontaneously while I was out and about in town already running errands.  I was wearing a relatively long flowing floral dress, a silk scarf and high heels.  Not exactly the most appropriate outfit for what I was about to do but as they say back home in Spain “es lo que hay” (it is what it is) so I just went for it.  Mahabala K. Poojari, the charming and hospitable owner of New Krishna Sagar, agreed to donate his time to explain the 1-2-3’s of the restaurant and show me how masala dosa is made.

In India, business doesn’t happen until a sufficient amount of personal interaction has taken place first.  So when business is with a restaurateur you can imagine that it will involve food and drinks.  So in keeping with Indian tradition, Mahabala basically tried to force feed me lunch and Indian sweets, which would be rude for me to refuse.  And normally I would be all over this generosity, trust me, I can be quite a little pig.  My only problem is that I am in full-swing bikini boot camp mode in preparation for Ibiza in August so I really didn’t need or want anything.  But my friend said that I would be insulting the owner if I didn’t…so I enjoyed a small sweet pastry and fresh watermelon juice 🙂

Here is a quick video I took of the chef making a masala dosa so you can see what one is (in case you don’t know) and how it is prepared…I only appear at the very end:

It took me about 15 minutes, a load of wonderful, fresh ingredients and a lot of help to whip up the potato filling for masala dosa.

If you have never had the pleasure of eating a masala dosa, you are really missing out.  This magical treat is essentially a thick Indian crepe that has been brushed with spicy red chilli, it is both sweet and salty, then filled with a – of course, spicy – mixture of herbs, onions, potato, cashews, lentils, etc etc… and rolled up either burrito style or into a 2-dimentional triangle if you can picture that.  It’s pure heaven.

My first lesson took place in grain storeroom where I was shown exactly which legumes and grains are processed, ground up and then refined even further in order to make the fresh flour that is then mixed with salt and water to create the perfect batter.  They don’t use manufactured flour for their dosas, which ensures the quality is just right and to keeps costs down.  It’s fresh and you can really taste the difference.

Next we moved downstairs from the grain storeroom into the kitchen and there we actually caused quite a stir.  I think it’s safe to say that a white girl in a dress and heels had never walked into that kitchen to work before and we actually had a little crowd following us around, it was cute.  One of the staff had prepared a platter with all of the necessary ingredients to make the potato filling and the owner put me to work in front of the largest wok-like pan I had ever seen.  It was shiny silver and smouldering hot and he walked me through the process of making the filling.  First we seasoned the pan with oil, and then started adding spices, legumes, chillies and onions… we added in basically a huge handful of some delicious smelling herbs and coriander and the aroma coming up from the mix was wonderful.  Coarsely chopped cashews were the last ingredient added into it…yum yum!!  Once the mix had cooked enough I was given a spoon to taste test and it was delicious.

This was my view from the grill, looking out to the guests who were waiting for me to cook up their dosas 🙂

From there we went to where the real action is and I was put to work in the open kitchen of New Krishna Sagar that faces the street.  Now THAT was interesting, I think just as much for me as for the guests outside looking in at this blondie behind the grill whipping up their dosas!  My first attempt at making a dosa was a nightmare, I poured the batter completely wrong, didn’t add enough clarified butter to it, you name it….I messed it up.  So I asked the chef to show me exactly how to do it ….again!!!

After that I stepped back in and actually did it right.  Not PERFECT, but at least more or less right.  First, you take a cup of water and pour it onto the grill and move it around to freshen up the grill using a bunch of branches or long reeds that are tied together, which is really fun.  Then you dip into the batter and pour it onto the grill in one pile and use the bottom of the cup to spread the batter and make a nice big dosa.  Once it has been spread out to the right size, you sprinkle a little ghee – or clarified butter – on it and spread on red chilli paste.  Last, grab a handful of the potato filling and place it in a ball on the center of the dosa and let it cook for a minute or so.

This all goes into the “flour” that is used to make the dosa for masala dosa. AMAZING!!

So there I was, hot and sweaty at the grill, whipping up masala dosa, placing them onto plates or into to-go boxes, and serving customers, haha.  It was actually really fun.  And quite funny every time I did something wrong because the entire kitchen and all of the guests of New Krishna Sagar standing outside in front of the counter would laugh with me as I tried again.  Okay, probably they were laughing AT me but it was all in good fun.

At the end of my “shift” I marched myself upstairs with the owner and enjoyed the fruits of my labour.  Mmmmm mmmmm, I was hungry from the hard work at this point too so I thought “screw bikini bootcamp”…I gobbled up my masala dosa with my hands in record time 🙂

XOXO from Bangalore

© Angela Carson and Angela’s Adventures in Bangalore blog and photos, 2011

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Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I’ve explored 35 countries on 4 continents, residing in 7 of them (currently Kuala Lumpur is my home). I even have a private pilot’s license and was shot at once by bandits!

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27 Comments

  1. 12/07/2011 / 13:29

    Angela that is brilliant, I did think I would see you on the video making your little munchie!! So when you come back here you will need to bring spicies for a full on Indian nosh up! mmmmm cant wait, will defo beat Super Pollo!!!

    • 12/07/2011 / 20:14

      omg ok… i uploaded the video and swapped it out that has MY chef there and then me at the very end waving a bit… but my stupid battery died early in the day because this was all so spontaneous that I hadn’t fully charged my camera, etc …. but go up and click on link NOW and you will see me 🙂 oxoxoxox

  2. Nisha
    12/07/2011 / 14:00

    Arrrhhh… I am thousands of kilometers from a masala dosa and then I read this! Sigh, there is no way I can make one till the weekend and I am going to drool till then. Mine is never as good as those I had in my student days in Bangalore and wondered what ingredient I was missing out on. What is that on the top left part of the plate? Is it green gram? And do you know why there are two types of rice and which kinds they are? And do you know what goes into the red chilli paste? Sorry to grill you like this, but I love masala dosas, especially the Bangalore style ones. You seem to be having such an adventure!

    • 12/07/2011 / 20:22

      okay, so I have to be really honest here…I had a sheet of paper with all my notes and lists of ingredients, etc and I can’t find it. I wrote that damn post from memory!! I will go back to the restaurant in the coming days and send you an email privately…I don’t want to go too soon because he always wants to feed me and I am seriously dieting so give me a week or two 🙂 –ang

  3. Sameer
    12/07/2011 / 15:17

    Good Job Angela

    SAM

    • 12/07/2011 / 20:23

      thanks, sameer! From CMO to dosa cook, haha…. xo

  4. 12/07/2011 / 18:00

    Wow!! That is amazing! Way to go, Angela! 🙂 🙂
    I’m absolutely no good in the kitchen, and usually tend to freak out a bit if I have to cook something for my own family.. You have no idea how much respect I have for your spirit of adventure, and confidence to try out new stuff every single day.. 😀 😀 Especially cooking up a masala dosa in the kitchen of a restaurant, right in front of the customers? Hats off to you! 🙂 🙂
    PS: You have me drooling for masala dosas as well.. 😀 Must ask my Grandmom to make me some.. 😛 😀

    • 12/07/2011 / 20:21

      hahaha ok ok ok… so we all don’t do everything awesome but you are pretty awesome in other ways girl 🙂 I still really want to meet you… you should come over some day and I will cook some mexican food for you!!! Thanks so much for the kind words x

  5. 12/07/2011 / 18:14

    WOW!
    That was A.W.E.S.O.M.E! 😀

    It’s one of most craved items, apart from raw mango, by Indian women during their pregnancy. 🙂

    • 12/07/2011 / 20:15

      omg i had NO idea about that… I believe it!!!!

  6. abstractpsyche
    13/07/2011 / 02:01

    Heeeeeey, that used to be my place for brunch when I used to study at NIIT (Indiranagar 100ft road). 🙂 Glad to see that you’re enjoying.
    You gotta try “Rava Dosa”, Plain Dosa is simple and plain and whereas Masala Dosa has the stuffing inside. The other types of Dosa that you’ll see are Chicken Dosa and Set Dosa (Set means 3 😉 ). There’s some Dosa Den somewhere hidden in Indirangar where you find atleast 20 varieties of Dosas.
    By the way, did you know that Indiranagar was named after The Iron Lady, Indira Gandhi (daughter of the 1st Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru) 3rd Prime Minister of India?

    • 13/07/2011 / 09:53

      How funny…yeah well I love that place. I have literally eaten masala dosas all around town now and their version is the best I have had so far 🙂 And I just woke up so OMG that was too much dosa talk so early in the morning for me, haha. But I promise to go and try a Rava Dosa in the next couple of days, thanks 🙂

  7. siddhartha kumar
    21/07/2011 / 06:26

    Hi Angela,

    I have been following all of your posts with great passion here in San Francisco. You remember me, the British-indian guy in san francisco ? It is great you are having a great time !

    But , any woman who can cook a great masala dosa wins my heart easy !

    😛

    Smiley Face

    • 21/07/2011 / 13:54

      Yes, I remember you! I am so happy you are still reading it, hope it makes you giggle every once in a while 🙂

  8. Siddhartha Kumar
    21/07/2011 / 23:23

    Hi Angela,

    Sorry, to hear about your groping experience. Delhi is worse, in fact they harass the women especially goris (white women) in front of their spouses or relatives! My american ex-wife, an american friend of hers and indian women friends were well-protected by us guys forming a wall around the women as we went around Connaught place in Delhi. We filled in the gaps in the wall with some of my beefy , younger indian male cousins to prevent the hoooliganish predators from copping a feel!

    Call it the great wall of India!

    Too bad, Delhi should be a show-case city of indian civility, being the capital but in my opinion it is the world HQ of perverts, gropers, rapists, hooligans, scalliwags ! I have always had the impression that Bangalore is more civilized but, it is all subjective.

    Anyway, cheers and let me know if you ever want to date a gorgeous blonde woman, my yank girlfriend!!

    😉
    😆
    :mrgreen:

    Sincerely, take care

    Da Prince Siddhartha

    • 23/07/2011 / 02:22

      Yes, I remember you! Your saucy comments are hard to forget 🙂 haha Glad the ladies had you guys to protect them as you did, well done! You come back soon 🙂

      • Mattew
        12/11/2011 / 20:23

        I have been doing some real time research on relocating to Bangalore and happened to stumble upon your blogs….Great writing and good to hear that you are loving India. How expensive is Canadian International School in Bangalore? I have daughters aged 14 and 11 and finding a right school in Bangalore is the biggest challenge for me right now.

        Keep blogging…love to read your experiences in Bangalore.

        • 13/11/2011 / 02:59

          Hi, thanks for reading…and for the kind words. I will email you the fee schedule for the school but it is lower than others, which is is fab. I used to pay 1,100 euros per month back at the british school of barcelona… here I think I pay about 700-800 per month here but let me send you the fee list so you can add it up for 2. My daughter is 16 so in the IB program…might be lower for your girls. The school is wonderful, the campus is stunning and they even have cool uniforms for a change which my daughter is very happy about 🙂 They are also growing so have space….it’s a super choice. Cheers, angela

  9. K
    17/12/2011 / 21:21

    > to freshen up the grill using a bunch of branches or long reeds that are tied together, which is really fun.
    >
    That’s a broom. I always wonder if it is used to clean only the tawa (i.e grill) 🙂

  10. manjeet
    14/01/2012 / 01:43

    wow…feeling hungry after seeing masala dosa 🙂


    manjeet singh
    Punjab

  11. mac
    18/02/2012 / 12:17

    I like the masala dosa at Udupi Upahar in Bangalore.

  12. 04/06/2012 / 06:07

    One of the best dosa places in Bangalore is called Dosa point at Jayanagar 3rd block. They have some 30 variety of dosas. If you want to try ethnic food, Jayanagar and South Bangalore are famous. One very good and famous place is MTR near Lalbagh.

    • 05/06/2012 / 01:00

      Ohhhhh thanks, duly noted. Masala dosa is still my favourite but I’m happy to try new dosas periodically 🙂 Ange

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