There’s something about eating to celebrate that appeals to everybody.Almost everyone is happy with a special occasion that involves eating food, and in the UK we have plenty to choose from. AtEaster we get ready for a chocolate overload, on Bonfire night we stuff ourselves with jacket potatoes, chilli and baked beans, andChristmas can mean just one thing – scoffing ourselves on a roast dinner with all the trimmings.
And then there’s Pancake Day. This day in particular has a special place in our hearts largely because unlike chocolate, spuds and roast dinners, pancakes aren’t something we tend to eat all year round. It’s unclear why, but pancakes seem to have their place on Shrove Tuesday and there they stay.
However, head to other countries around the world and this is far from being the case. In France, the ham and cheese-filled crêpe is a firm favourite, as is the sizzling Vietnamese banhxeo filled with shrimps, pork and beansprouts. Both of which are delicious, of course, but if you are looking for a pancake that ticks all the boxes, the south Indian masala dosa takes some beating.
The masala dosa is a marvellous combination of spicy potatoes wrapped in a sourdough pancake that is a staple meal in India’s southern states. Not only that, but it has made its mark on the world as a whole. Back in 2012, the masala dosa made it onto the list of top ten foods to try before you die, compiled by the Huffington Post.
When you order a dosa in an Indian restaurant the dish you are presented with undoubtedly has the ‘wow’ factor. Cooked on a large hot plate, dosas are often around a foot in diameter and come to the table, with both ends of the rolled pancake extending off the side of the plate.
Making a dosa at home is something that takes a certain amount of patience. The batter is made from rice and urad dal which are soaked in a bowl of water for at least four hours. After that, it is then blended to create a smooth paste, which is your batter. This then needs to be fermented (ideally overnight for between eight to ten hours,or until it is bubbling) to allow the right texture and flavour to develop.
As for the filling of spicy potatoes, that depends on personal taste. Some people like their filling to be textured, others prefer it smooth and lump free. The other must-have for many is the thick coconut chutney that sits to one side of the dosa and compliments the flavours perfectly, whilst giving a nod to the dish’s south Indian roots.
So, by all means treat yourself to a regular pancake doused with lemon and sugar on Shrove Tuesday this year, but for the other 364 days in the year, make your pancake of choice the masala dosa. London is home to some of the best Indian brasseries in which you can find a range of delicious Indian meals on the menu.