Indian food is becoming increasingly popular across the United States as Indian restaurants continue to open up in communities beyond large cities. The accessibility of Indian food has allowed more people than ever to give some of India's cuisines a taste. Be honest, when your friends ask you to go out for Indian food you're more than hyped for the excursion.

But what most people don't know is that most American Indian food draws from the cuisines of Northern India and that the cuisine of South India is often left unexplored in American Indian restaurants. India is a nation known for its thousands of different cultures that stem from its rich history. The breadth of customs across India boast a myriad of regional cuisines that utilize flavor and various cooking techniques in unique ways. Yet most fans of Indian food have never heard of dosa, a popular dish with origins in Southern India. But what is a dosa? Read on to learn more about this thin pancake filled with deliciousness. 

What Is a Dosa?

A thin pancake with origins in Southern India, dosa is popular all across the Indian subcontinent. Dosa is made from a fermented batter that primarily consists of rice and black gram, which is a bean grown in India. After fermenting overnight, the batter is thickened with water and ladled onto a hot griddle called a tava. The tava is typically greased with oil or ghee, which is clarified butter that has origins in India. Finally, the batter is spread out evenly to form a thin pancake on the tava and is eventually served hot as a wrap or folded in half. 

How Is a Dosa Eaten?

Dosa can be eaten for breakfast or dinner and are typically filled with vegetables and sauces. They're usually accompanied by vegetarian side dishes that vary according to the region in which they're being eaten. Some of these side dishes include sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew), chutneys (sauces that are a part of Indian cuisine), and idli podi (a coarse powder mixture of ground dry spices used as a condiment).

There are tons of variations on plain dosa, but the most popular is Masala Dosa, which is filled with potato masala (boiled, crumbled potatoes in a mild gravy). Other kinds of dosa include palak (spinach) dosa, light white dosa (rice and coconut), and paneer (fresh cheese) dosa. 

Dosa vs Crepes 

While dosa do appear very much like crepes, the two foods are extremely different. Crepes are made using wheat flour and both savory and sweet varieties exist. On the other hand, dosa is made with rice and black gram and all varieties are savory. Additionally, dosa are a good source of protein due to the rice and black gram, and the fermentation process increases vitamin B and vitamin C in the dish. The main differences between crepes and dosa have to do with regional cuisines and cooking practices that utilize different flavors and instruments. 

The next time you decide to head out for Indian food, try looking for a place that serves up dosa and other South Indian fare so you can gain a greater appreciation for the variety of cultures that dot the Indian subcontinent. Experiencing different cuisines is essential to broadening our horizons and palates. But above all, who could say no to a filled pancake for dinner?