12.31.2012

Jai Maruthi variety dosas

Southwards of the famed Silk Board junction in Bangalore, whose name rarely passes through the mind of a daily commuter without arousing the severest of shudders, lives a long flyover. The elevated tollway, as it is named in various government notices, memos and such official paperdom, cruises above the chaotic ramshackle that is Hosur road for nearly ten kilometers. It disregards the row of tiny little  named places below it with the nonchalance of a fat and prosperous businessman passing by the slums of Bombay in his airconditioned airport taxi. Kudlu gate, Singasandra, Hosa Road... all whizz by underneath as the tarmac heaves and falls like a giant roller coaster, proceeding steadfast in the general southward direction. Towards the end, one arm veers sharply to the right and lands the rider with a jolt, right at the menacing face of a tollgate - which guards the entrance to Electronic City.

For many of the regular, native Bangalore junta, hearing that I live in Electronic City brings out an involuntary sympathetic response - Oooh, that far? And the response invariably brings out my strong city-loving self - "Dude I TOLD you to live a little towards the city man.. you stray a little further south of where you live and you're on roaming dammit!".
Under such circumstances, I think of trying to merely cross the road on foot amidst 6pm-traffic at Silk Board, and the above-outraging city-loving self mutters to itself and shuts up quick.

So now that we have descended into the vast tech-park that is E-City, the road quickly assumes an air of importance - a la one of those longish and impressive driveways into some of India's better colleges. Young and sturdy shady trees line the pavements and pose a perennial danger to the hapless fellow texting away on his phone and walking without looking up (True story).

The tech park is home to a large number of companies - many of them well known, with their large number of employees, and some not very well known (like the one adjacent to where I work, whose sole purpose, I believe, is to unnerve late-nighters in my building by lighting up spooky looking lamps in their building at late hours). The most humanly reachable (going by normal BMTC route-info) spot on a normal day is one of the entrances/exits of Wipro, and is simply referred to as Wipro gate. Beyond this thing, the road suddenly peters out into a forgotten one marred with potholes and speedbumps (for even the vilest and most pathetic of roads in this part of bangalore have to have a well-built, hulking speedbump). The people who dare to venture beyond into this road have only one purpose in life - to go home for the night.

A kilometer or so down this road, one sees huge apartment complexes looming up on both sides, their flats dotting the dark sky-scape like individual mirror pieces on a giant disco-ball. In front of one such huge apartment complex is parked the green coloured vehicle serving my evening snack - the Jai maruthi variety dosa corner.

I have never been someone particularly inclined towards food except as a rather nice means to survive, and most of all, one who sees right through the clever foodgasm-inducing attempts by the marketing department in some restaurants.

"Rich, golden paper roast delicately stuffed with delicious, fried filling prepared from the finest of herbs lining verdant green valleys of Mysore, lovingly sprinkled with aromatic gunpowder ground from oriental spices handpicked personally for you from choice regions in  the South Indian peninsula" is just one number Mysore masala dosa, you see.

So I might add that, sometimes the best food I've eaten has been from an obscure wayside stall with nothing but a tarpaulin cloth covering its humble self.

And here it was - nothing but a makeshift stall riding piggyback on an extended autorickshaw.


It had customers, like the saying goes, from all walks of life. The lady from the nearby apartment with her two little kids, the fat pot-belly sporting mama with the bristled  moustache, the guy with the sweater-clad pet pug, and the auto driver from the nearby stand. 

"Masala, Plain, Mysore masal, cheese, schezwan cheese, chilly paneer, gobi, baby corn, sweet corn, chaat, benne, tomato cheese.." he began, when I asked him what varieties of dosa they had. I could've sworn bhairavi, khamaj and hamsadhwani might have been part of the list had I not cut him off and picked one at random -  schezwan cheese.

 The guy in charge snapped off a quick order to one of the men at the business end of things, who then set to work, first spreading an evenly thick layer of ivory-white batter onto the fuming hot stove plate. A fresh mist of smoke rose from the vicinity of the stove, carrying with it the aroma of the flavour the previous dosa had been doused in. And then the magic began. With professional dexterity, he let his hands glide over a few of the bowls in front, where the major ingredients which were to go into the filling were kept. A thick slab of the stuff was deposited over the dosa and out came a contraption looking like an egg-beater. This was rolled over the slab of filling, which flattened out evenly into indistinguishable pieces, all in a fiery red hue which sizzled and bubbled restlessly over the now golden batter.

The two little kids were kicking up a din over a glass of water. The elder one strongly disapproved of her sibling touching the glass to his mouth while drinking, while the latter thought it not a big deal at all. Their mom was, to borrow a popular tamil phrase, maattindu muzhikkufying in between the two warring kiddos.

When I turned back to look at my dosa, the guy was 'delicately sprinkling' cheese filings over it. The dosa had now assumed an air of importance and was spreading forth its aroma all around it. Smelt good, yessir!

As a finishing touch, he used the flat-ladle (or whatever it's called - I'm sure it has a name) and his fingers to roll the dosa into a cylinder, partitioned it in the middle for easy consumption and flung it onto a plate. Done boss :)

I spent the next five minutes trying to pacify the fuming dosa into a tame one at devourable temperature, and the next ten munching in silence. It tasted fine. Paying the chap off with a burp and some cash, I was washing my hands from the tap connected to a large water tub kept specifically for the purpose near the side of the van when i noticed a young boy standing near the driver's seat of the auto, grating paneer into little slivers. Our eyes met for a moment, and he turned his attention back to the little wisps of freshly grated cheese falling off into the bowl kept on the cushion seat.

And now for some nice filter coffee, but that is another story.