Of idlis and doshas…

As I began my day today at Hariprasad, my favorite neighborhood (nearly) Kannadiga food joint here, I wondered about the origins of the dish that I had just ordered.

The masala dosa.

Legend has it that a Brahmin adiga (cook) was the creator of this popular breakfast item. Brahmins were not allowed to consume anything fermented at the time, so he decided to go against that and create something of his own using fermented rice. Although he failed, he decided to cook with it instead and poured a spoonful of batter on an iron griddle and spread the batter in a circular motion using a ladle. When cooked, it became a thin, crispy, crepe-like pancake, but savoury.

Since this cook had indulged in dosha – the term used to describe something that causes an issue – the dish was titled the same, which later turned to dosa or dosai.

The Idli apparently had no such story behind it – but it too was created at least 800 years ago. Also, it seems like Kalyani Chalukya king Someshwara III promoted these dishes through his writings and patronage, thus leading up to its present day popularity.

Did you also know that potatoes and tomatoes arrived in India only in the 16 and 17 centuries? They were brought to India by the Portuguese and hence do not form part of the preparation of the Sri Jagannath Puri Mahaprasad.

So much about food, and so intriguing!