Thursday, July 14, 2005

Dosa Nirvana

My brother* is a South Indian Brahmin (SIB). And everyone knows what SIs in general are known for, besides speaking excellent English in bad accents and seeking curd-rice with an ache akin to that men stranded in desserts for weeks feel for water, we are also known for our love for dosas. (By the way, we as a family have the accent problem alright but it’s a Bengali one we are plagued with! Yes, we are a family with many problems). Now my brother, he is a man of discerning taste (Yes sister-in-law, you can take that bow now), and he will NOT settle for the passable, restuarant-dosa that his sister would happily devour. He will not settle for dosa batter made in a Sumeet mixie. He will not even settle for dosa batter made the authentic way by the local mami who will sell it to him at a great price. “Not sour enough!” he will say. Or at other times “Not quite airy enough”... His nose pointed skywards..almost. “It’s the ratio that’s a little off...” I’ve heard him explain at times, nose scrunched up and eyes squinting in concentration...”That is why it’ll not yield dosas that golden crispy!”

I would listen in bewilderment and some mild irritation, as he continued to explain the reasons they have a wet grinder at home. I once did the mistake of mentioning my Gits discovery in my early naïve days, when I was just finding my way around the kitchen in Chicago. And the appall that I had registered on his face continues to wake me up in a sweat even now some nights. As I shake my head and gulp down some water wondering what I had done to have let my family down so bad, to have had that look return to my consciousness, it dawns on me that some secrets are never meant to be shared with family members, however close they might be. No, blood thicker than water and all that is fine but live with caution girl!

Well anyway, earlier this year, while we were visiting them and enjoying the California sun that the inhabitants of that shorts-clad state take so much for granted, he whipped up these Amazing dosas. Yes they are Different. I had forgotten the taste of the asli-wet-grinder-wale dosas, jotting it down under Magic-that-only-Mom-weaves, I had moved on with life. A little deprived, the taste-buds a little less tingled and the heart a little more fond. But here it was again! The work involved though overwhelmed me. And I was only feigning polite interest when I remarked casually “We should get one of these.”

Now the hubby is also a SIB. In fact, he is that potent mix of Tam-ness and Brahm-ness, that I never thought I would voluntarily invite into my life. Again, though a non-resident of Tamil Nadu, his palate is predominantly SI and he is known to scoop and lap up a plateful of butter milk and rice with speed that Bruno, his German Shepard (Alsatian), used to envy. Along with being a SIB, he is also a Seizer Of Opportunities (SOO). As you will see. When we were in different cities catching up with family during our vacation in India, he casually mentioned to me on the phone that he had picked up the 110V wet grinder that “You had wanted so badly.””What?” I went. We say these things in people’s houses, but later we discuss stuff we really want...that’s normal practice, right!! And the fact that it had never again been mentioned by me after that one time, apparently did not count to this dosa-loving SIB. The true SOO does not believe in letting a single O pass by "unseized" you see.

So he lugged it back and set it up in a corner of our kitchen here in Boston. Silently. And it in turn sat there silently, slowly guilting me into making the dosas, and the idlis. And the uttapams. I am afraid I am very close to succumbing to the vadas soon. This weekend maybe. Have to soak the dal tomorrow.

So the domestication of Gabby continues. Successfully. The hubby can tell you all about it. Later. At the moment his mouth is full of chutney. But he does pause to tell me to check the vada recipe. “Ask your Mom” he says. “Or your brother.”

* The same one who made a short appearance a long while ago and then politely left. But that does not mean he is nowhere in our vicinity, he can be quite the lurker, when he wants to!


Blogger anumita said...

I can see the pattern gabby... aha! The last post and then this... domestication indeed! *wink*

9:32 PM  
Blogger Pallavi said...

lOLOL yeah !! Dosa batter definitely needs that proportion.. lOLOL.. I have got addicted to Dosas too.. inspite of me not being a SI... LOLOL... Hubby lugging that means that HE wanted it badly.. LOLOLOL

12:06 AM  
Blogger manuscrypts said...

...on your way to become a complete SIB (South Indian Bahu)!! :)

12:13 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

i dont like dosas ... i like idli's though! dont get them here

1:11 AM  
Anonymous burf said...

how can u forget to italicize and/or anchor



it's so very apna Indian


3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA HA HA Gabby!!

Your brother AND your hubby! I expect to see many such posts :) Your brother will be a "bad" influence on Mr.Gabby, which will lead you into doing "good" things for him!

But hey, you enjoy them dosas too, right? *wink*


5:08 AM  
Anonymous Ashok said...

So we are guaranteed GOOD dosas in Boston and California. I like your family :)

6:38 AM  
Blogger phatichar said...

You forgot 'vaangi bhaath' and 'puliogare'!!

Great post, this...:)

6:52 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: So the progression continues! Total family oriented posts these past week.

besides speaking excellent English in bad accents: I take umbrage at that statement!

Anyways going slightly off topic, I got this email through a Yahoo group! And I get the idea that u are a IR fan! Chk out and their song of the day archives! They have a yahoo group with one email daily with a song of the day.

Would have emailed you, but dont have yours!

7:57 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anumita - Help! Help! :)

Pallavi - Totally! Watch out for these Silent Operators...they rarely bark so you have to look out for their slow silent moves...

manu - the bahu role I play when I'm back home...who knew being a SIW (wife) involved so much? It wasn't in any prenup!!!

ricercar - but that's the easier one to make! Want a wet grinder shipped to Scotland? ;)

burf - Amends made! See the very fact that it's so apna Indian, can make one forget to explain it!!

8:03 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Shobha - *Sigh*...What foresight! :) So I'm gonna be made a "murgi" several times over you say?!! But yes, I love them dosas myself, but in case you somehow din't get it yet, I'm a lazy bum...hence the laments!

ashok - i like 'em too..albeit minus the grinders. So which coast are you on?

phatichar - O please. Baby steps here. Have mercy! & thanks.

Anti - I'm a family kinda person actually. (NOT to be mistaken to be a "homely" person as we say in India! :))...
Yes, I like IR. An interest cultivated mostly in the last couple of years. Thanks for the tip, will go investigate now!

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Ash said...

Lol !

Your bro sounds really ... dedicated. Shucks, his wife must be one brave soul ! :)

Aha, now there's another reason to visit Boston !!

8:12 AM  
Blogger shub said...

"But he does pause to tell me to check the vada recipe. “Ask your Mom” he says. “Or your brother.” " LOLOL!! as always lovely post, gabs!:)

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way Gabby, do you use par-boiled rice or regular rice in your dosa mix?


9:14 AM  
Blogger Peg said...

Peg's got that big wide smile on again! Always a treat, Gratis! Always a treat!! :-0}

9:30 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Ash - He is :)...His wife gets idlis and dosas when she wants them, so like Mr.Gabby she is doing well I should think! Yes ma'am come to Boston and a dosa party is promised!

shub - thank you, thank you!

Shobha - Ah! The question, I used regular so far but have been told to try the boiled one. By my mother. And my brother. Of course.

Peg - I hope the post din't come out too strange to you. Do try a dosa at your local Indian restaurant when you get a chance (if you haven't already), we SIs are very proud of our culinary culture :)

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE Indian food. So does my husband. We love the dosa with minced meat filling. Very yummy! I can understand why Mr.Gabby is arm-twisting you!


11:12 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Ah Peggy - You're talking about a Keema dosa, a modification of the original dosa with a potato-onion filling, which I have never tried. I'm glad you like it! Yes this was arm-twisting with a twist alright :)

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Zoheb said...

Gabby behn, I have the same high standards as your bro. Thats why I have decided that I won't make dosa at home unless I get a wet grinder and a talented wife.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Cherubin said...

ok...I'm lusting for dosas now that I had taken completely for granted whilst I was at college situated in a predominantly SIB area :(

1:10 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

zoheb bhai - you seem like the male equivalent of yours truly! lazy boy! I hope your wife will be talented in getting you off your ass as well :)

angel - i like the term "lusting for dosas"...very well put :)

1:59 PM  
Blogger thennavan said...


Let this not create DIVisions in the family Gabby. Just go with the flo :-)

3:31 PM  
Blogger anantha said...

Gabby: Chk this out -

The dosa is beautiful! :)

7:06 PM  
Blogger visithra said...

hehehhe the domestication of a willing wife :p

12:31 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

thennavan - Trust you to do do your speaciality-thing with my rants too :) Going with the flow mister, going...till of course the current gets too strong!

Anti - Interesting! My dosa won't be in a cone, but hey it's made the RIGHT way...come to think of it Indian food is great for Celiacs, if you can manage to avoid the rotis etc. Idlis should be made more popular too don't you think? It's usually left as dosa's poorer cousin when it's amazing and way healthier actually. Hmmm...want to opena restaurant Anti?

visithra - Not quite "beaten into submission" but yes I'm way tamer than I used to be. And know what, I'm quite enjoying it!..*grin*

6:21 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Awww Shucks!! What has become of you my dear undomesticated [read 'wild and untamed'!] friend??!! Wet Grinder?? Making dosas at home? The last time I checked you fed me bread [and I Can't Remember If That Was Butter!!] for breakfast. Thats what happens when you leave hubby alone and go check out fresh water pearls and local made three tiered skirts and suchlike when in Des!!

I come here after a while and I see a whole series on Indian Diaspora marathon going on. Pretty cool. Will go read all of them.

8:39 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

Btw, who attained the Nirvana? The Dosa, The Hubby or You??

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is the dal soaked? :D

9:06 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Ah Funny! & Where have you been?! Welcome!

Come now, there was butter and some eggs too no? No? O well timing is everything. Drop by now and even the bread will be different. They'll be dipped in besan-onion-green-chilli batter and deep fried. And unrecognizable as bread. And isn't that the secret of good Indian cooking? Transform beyond recognition :)

Hubby is the one with who has attained dosa nirvana. I swear his bum isn't quite touching the dining table chair while he munches on...:)

Anon - Yes. Err...did Mr.Gabby hire you?

9:43 AM  
Blogger anantha said...

bread dipped in besan-onion-green-chilli batter and deep fried. !!!!! Wow... And I haven't had lunch :(

12:30 PM  
Blogger KJ said...



especially the ones which my hubby takes the trouble to make.;)

he is a WONDERFUL cook, better than me.....i have two left hands :D

Now if i can just make him read this comment.


2:32 AM  
Blogger KJ said...



especially the ones which my hubby takes the trouble to make.;)

he is a WONDERFUL cook, better than me.....i have two left hands :D

Now if i can just make him read this comment.


2:32 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Anti - Don't read this stuff on an empty stomach. Actually don't do anything on an empty stomach.

kj - you have it made my friend. your hubby cooks and also makes amazing dosas? why do you need him to do anything more AT ALL?

7:42 AM  
Anonymous :-) said... its true, ha! We southies love curd rice. (not to mention the idlies and the dosas). I have been thinking I am the only one.

1:59 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Poor Smiley, living is such doubt. Must have been a shocker hearing me mention it as such an obvious fact.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Swathi said...

my Mr. also being an SIB, i can relate to ur woes. wait till he starts 'bout that "puliogarai" or the "arachavuta kolumbu" (or maybe u've already gone thro' that)

10:02 PM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

Ah Swathi, the puliogarai has happened...& we have dealt with it :)..the kolumbu hasn't and it's a good thing he doesn't read my blog let alone the comments...can't have him getting ideas! :)

6:07 AM  
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10:31 PM  

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