A Hearty Fare, the Tosai Checks All the Boxes as a Comfort Food

  • 01 Aug 2019

Tosai, Thosai or Dosa - it is called by several names.

The spelling differs, but the pronunciations are almost the same. This hearty fare originated from South India and is available (and extremely popular) at every Indian restaurant in Malaysia.

The tosai is instantly recognisable and it is synonymous to Indian food as is the banana leaf rice and roti canai. It is a thin savoury crepe or pancake made of rice and lentil batter that has been left to ferment overnight. Urad dal (black lentils) are usually added to give it extra texture and taste.

The cook would ladle the batter onto an oiled, flat cooking surface or the tawa. (a griddle pan) and flattens it out with a spiral spin with the bottom of the ladle. He then sprinkles a little oil on top and lets it set. As it finishes cooking, the cook would scrape it up and either roll it into a huge cylindrical or a cone, or folds it into half or a triangle and serves it up. Watching him work his magic with the simple batter and turning it into a delicious work of art is fascinating.

Best eaten warm and freshly made, it is served with chutney and sambar. This simple yet versatile dish can be made thick, thin or crisp depending on the consistency of the batter and how thick or thin it is spread on the tawa.

There are over a dozen variations of this humble tosai in Malaysia, though it surely numbers to much more in the country of its origin, India. Let's have a look at a few of them.

1. Ghee Tosai

Ghee is highly clarified butter and ghee tosai is tosai that is cooked with ghee or is brushed with melted ghee after it is cooked. The flavour of this tosai is heightened with a browned, nutty, caramel-like taste and the fragrant aroma that ghee is known for, however, it is not good for weight watchers.

2. Masala Tosai

A masala tosai is filled with a generous amount of masala spiced potatoes. Masala means 'spice' but it is not spicy in terms of the heat. It is flavourful from the many spices used to season the potatoes such as mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, star anise and coriander. This is a very filling dish and usually just one masala tosai is more than enough for one hungry person!

3. Paper tosai

This tosai usually elicits gasps of amazement whenever it is served up – either horizontally rolled up or as a high tall cone. It is very thin and fragile, yet super crispy indeed.

4. Rava tosai

Semolina flour, finely chopped green chilis, curry and coriander leaves are added to the tosai batter, and what makes this tosai distinctive is the many little holes punctuating it. No fermentation is required. This tosai is served crispy.

5. Uttapam

Uttapam is a type of tosai, but thicker and is topped with vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, etc. While they can be a bit crispy around the edges it is very soft and fluffy on the inside.

Source: NDTV, Neal.Is
Photo Credit: Veg Recipes of India, Hyderabad Express, John S from TripAdvisor, Yummy Tummy Aarthi

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