According to Sanskrit scholar, K. T. Achaya, dosa was mentioned in ancient Sangam literature in late 6th century A.D. The Sangam period is an age in South India, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, which spanned from 3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D.
Manasaollasa, another Sanskrit text of 12th century A.D., mentioned a similar dish called dhosaka. Although both dhosaka and dosa have a similar crepe-like texture, their difference lies in the ingredients used. Dhosaka “means a cake made from chickpeas, black gram, I.e.”, according to Indian Linguistics, published in 1958 by Linguistic Society of India. Dosa, on the other hand, is comprised of not just pulse (edible seeds such as chickpeas and lentils), but also a handful of fenugreek seeds, and rice flour.
Although its exact place of origin remains a question, both historical accounts show that this dish is indigenous to South India.
Dosa comes in many variations, with masala dosa claiming to be the most popular type. The word masala can be found in the Oxford Dictionary and it is of Urdu and Arabic origin. It means “Any of a number of spice mixtures ground into a paste or powder for use in Indian cooking”. The potato filling in masala dosa is what makes it special. It is made of mashed potato flavoured with onions, chilli, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds.
Dosa is usually eaten for breakfast as the process of making it requires soaking the pulse in water for up to six hours before it is left to ferment overnight with rice flour and salt.
The batter is then cooked on a heated girdle and spread out evenly in a circular motion. The end result should be crepe-like or pancake-like in appearance. It is traditionally served with sambal or chutney as accompaniment.
Black gram, also known as dhal beans, rice flour, and fenugreek seeds.