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Chennai's tryst with humble dosa

Aug 23, 2006 08:38 AM IST India India

Chennai: It's best when it's served straight from the pan and it could be thick, thin, soft or crisp. Today, the dosai or dosa comes in a world of varieties.

"Kara Dosai, paper rava, dry fruit dosai, paper masala, vegetable dosai, paneer dosai, family roast, ghee roast, ghee rava dosai and some seven varieties of uthappam,” a server at restaurant Saravanabhavan, Selvam said. Nowadays, one can find many more of those on your dosa menu card.

With new ways of marketing and innovation the name of the game, dosa perhaps is now the most famous south Indian dish around the world.

And it doesn't matter how noisy the kitchen is but making the dosa is an art in itself.

You need the right ingredients and a specialist dosa maker or your dosa could well end up being called the dosa disaster.

And if you don’t trust your culinary skills and are looking for the best dosas in Chennai then you could fancy a trip to Mylapore, which has been home to one of the best rava dosa's for over 60 years — Rayar Mess.

"Anywhere else the rava dosa will have holes in it but with us there will not be a single hole in the rava dosa," owner, Rayar's café, Ravi said.

From being a Chennai specialty, today the loyalists for Rayar’s Mess include the city's ever-growing north Indian and Marvari community, a reflection perhaps that across the city they have now become the new hardcore dosa lovers.

"It's so interesting to find north Indians speak so convincingly and passionately about their dosas," food critic, Marian Mathew said.

The old restaurants represent a different era when restauranteers from Mangalore and Udipi made dosa a big business, building brands like the Woodlands and Dasaprakash in the 1930's and 40's. Many believe that they gave birth to the masala dosa.

Over the years the traditional dosai may have become the more sophisticated dosa but what's not changed despite the pizza-burger invasion is perhaps Chennai's love and commitment to its very own dosai.