Think of Dosa and you will instantly think of Chennai, or Bangalore. But when I think of the Dosa, I think of Jamshedpur.
Every year, when I head to my home-town-in-law, I have just one thing on mind –- food. While the cosmopolitan nature of the town ensures you have access to the some of the best of food from all over the country –- Litti-Choka from Bihar, Puri-Aloo from UP; Rolls, Noodles, Puchka, & Sweets from Bengal –- it is the Dosa here that is closest to my heart.
The Dosa arrived in Tata Nagar back in the 19th century along with the workforce from the southern states. In the last 100 years however, it has acquired a character of its own. It is triangular & stuffed with julienned onion, beetroot, and cabbage apart from the potato mix; the Chutney is made with channa dal and not coconut, and the Sambar is watery, with barely any vegetables visible. But one thing hasn’t changed — it still feeds the large, hungry workforce of the Steel City every morning. And sometimes those who return home after an entire year.
My husband and I fall in the latter category. Every year, even before we get home after a 24-hour train journey, we make a quick pit-stop at the favourite dosa cart. Today is no different.
At 8:30 in the morning, the shop is overflowing with people buying Idli, Upma, Vadas, and a special variety of dosa that is stuffed with upma instead of the usual potato mixture (it supposedly keeps you full for longer). Men, women, and children are lined up along the wooden counters of the cart, awaiting their turn with eager eyes and rumbling tummies. The slightly-sour aroma of fermented batter looms in the air, along with the fragrance of fresh Sambar and vapour escaping from the idli steamer. Raja, our man who makes the dosas with the flourish of an artist, is busy doling out ladles of batter and turning them into golden triangles. We park ourselves on the narrow wooden benches & look longingly at the griddle.
The griddle that is at the centre of all the action is thick & round and totally coated with batter, over which our man spreads a generous helping of onion, carrot, and beetroot mixture. He then goes on to spread the potato mix, and pours a huge ladle of oil over it. The result is a dose of crispy heaven, served on a battered steel plate. We wonder how long we have to wait for our turn when we see him handing the plate over to us with a smile. He obviously remembers his hungry patrons from a thousand miles away.
As we dig into the watery yet flavourful Sambar, the runny chutney & the perfectly golden dosa, every minute of the year long wait for it seems worth it.
Jamshedpur, or Tatanagar, is one of the largest industrial town in Jharkhand. Inhabited by a melange of people, it is home to some of the best street food one can lay his hands on. The dosa, which is almost a staple here, can be found in morning and evening along every major street in town. Priced between Rs. 20.00 to Rs. 35.00, it is the cheapest and most filling breakfast option.
When in town do not miss Raja Dosa Corner in front of Kadma market. And if you meet Raja, do tell him that Anubhuti Ma’m sends her regards from Delhi.