It’s often a simple dish that is cooked by a parent or grandparent that transports you back to another time and place.
Once the batter is ready, it’s cooked like a crepe on a well greased flat top griddle or traditionally on a tawa. The batter cooks quickly, and a well seasoned pan is key to giving the dosa a delicately crunchy shell that maintains a dampness inside.
The fermenting process is key. It brings a slight sourness and bread quality to the dosa once it’s finished. Dosas can be served a number of ways, but I think the simplest is best, the savoury crepe and an assortment of vegetable chutneys (coconut and pepper dips) and sambar (a stew of vegetables and dhal).
I first came across Annalakshmi during a food tour through Brampton. I was taking guests on a crawl through the city’s hidden gems when I spotted the sign for the restaurant, located in an otherwise lacklustre industrial plaza.
Annalakshmi’s dosa menu is extensive. There are nearly 50 types of dosas served at the restaurant with most of the variations specifying the type of filing you want in the dosa from a potato masala to a smearing of masala chili paste. Everything is vegetarian and vegan — Rengasamy doesn’t use any butter — and deeply satisfying.
If you’re overwhelmed by the menu, start simple. If you’ve never had a dosa, then order the rava dosa, Rengasamy’s version is the best I have had. He mixes ground semolina into his dosa batter, and then throws curry leaves and herbs into the mix. While the griddle is hot, instead of ladling the batter on to the surface, he sprays it on.
The coconut chutney is the least spicy, it’s thick and has a hint of green chili and herb. The green chutney is made of chillies. It packs a punch, but it’s softened by the dosa’s sourness. The red one is made of tomatoes and is my personal favourite, reminiscent of a good tomato sauce with some heat.