Savoury and spicy.
Thosai (also spelled dosa) is a savoury pancake served with a slew of spicy dipping sauces. Like so much of the Indian food popular at Singapore hawker centres, thosai are cheap, tasty and 100% vegetarian.
The recipe for thosai was brought to Singapore from South India, a region where being vegetarian is the norm. The batter is made from fermented rice flour and ground lentils, ladled into a hot skillet and lightly fried. The result is a pancake that’s crispy around the edges and chewy in the middle with a slightly tart taste (think of thosai as the Indian equivalent to sourdough bread).
But the part of the thosai experience that really tickles your tastebuds is the sauces served on the side. Thosai are generally served with at least three including spicy chilli chutney, cooling coconut chutney and a small bowl of lentil curry or sambar. Although cutlery is available, the traditional way to eat a thosai is using your right hand – it really is the most practical way to soak up all the delicious sauce.
Much like the hawker dish roti prata, the simplicity of the thosai has inspired many variations. You can order a thosai with onions, a fried egg, cheese or an extra long, extra thin version called a paper thosai. But the most popular variant has to be the masala thosai which is stuffed with spiced potatoes and filling enough to be a meal. Expect to pay around S$1.50 for a plain thosai up to S$5.00 for a specialty version.
Tanya Procyshyn is a freelance writer and photographer. With a passion for unusual destinations, she has camped alongside Komodo dragons and shook hands with soldiers in North Korea.
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