Till last month I used to pride myself on being an expert in making dosais. In fact dishing out paper thin dosai was the first culinary skill I mastered when I became a full time home maker. So much so I would offer to make dosais at my friends’ places whenever we had a get together.
“How do you manage to make them so effortlessly” my good friend Meera would ask.
I’d be gloating from within but in the most humble tone I’d reply that it was no great achievement and with a little effort she’d be able to master the art herself. She was never confident and I’d offer to make them for her family when time permitted. Those were days when I was not working and TV had not made its entry into our homes. This was a form of entertainment and I would help Meera grind the batter in my manual grinder and prepare masala dosais for her family on many a Sunday evenings. To my children those were days when they could run up and down the stairs, scream at the top of their voices and behave like prisoners on parole. I do long for those days when there was a healthy interaction between neighbors and we could walk in unannounced as and when we pleased. My children practically grew up in their house.I sometimes wonder when it all changed. Ours is a small township and Durga pooja was an occasion when the entire town would dress up and visit the various pandals along with their families. Meera’s sons would come running to show me their new dress and the joy one saw in their eyes when I approved of their appearance and their pride when I remarked how smart they looked……… well those days of simple pleasures are never to come again.
They say pride goes before a fall. But having cooked for the past 34 years I take it all for granted and the sense of achievement when a preparation turned out well is no longer there. So when I went to Trichy I offered to make dosais.
It was a hot snd sultry evening and the lady of the house welcomed my help and leaving me to deal with the batter she joined the rest of the family in the portico.
I was glad that she had a non stick tawa and with great confidence I poured the batter and started spreading it. But wait a sec….. I thought I was supposed to make dosais and the batter had rolled itself into a misshapen lump that looked more like an idli than a dosai.
‘The batter is too thick’ I thought and added a little water and tried again. This time it started flowing even before I could spread it and when I tried to give it a shape it looked as if it has been nibbled at by a rat. I was not the one to giveup easily. ‘The proportion must be wrong so let me add some rice flour’ I thought. I looked for the rice flour and was about to add it to the batter when my cousin in law came to check if I needed help. Seeing my plight she said that I was perhaps taking a long time to spread the batter.
“start spreading it immediately and don’t over heat the tawa” she said.
I poured another ladleful and spread it as if I had enrolled for a marathon. This time the batter rolled up into four lumps instead of one and parts of it remained stuck to the ladle. I was convinced that the quality if rice had something to do with my bad performance. Luckily I did not air out my expert opinion.
“Let me try” offered my cousin in law. I was kind of sure that she would not succeed where I had failed. But no!! Here she was spreading out the same batter with practiced ease into a paper thin dosai while I stood watching like a fool. How do I convince her that in my own set up I do a good job of it and that her cousin (my husband) is not starved to death in my hands? I give up. Any suggestions?