The Swiggy annual ‘StatEATistics’ — for the year ending December 2021 are out — and the jury has confirmed that Chicken Biryani was this year’s most ordered dish online. Despite India’s fast pace of ordering two Biryanis per second — I am going to centre my opinion-cum-rant against Masala Dosa, the king of South Indian dishes that, by the time it reaches you at home, is a soggy mess.
The data provided by Swiggy also shows that apart from Biryani, in about all the ten cities they analysed, except Chennai, Jaipur, and Pune — Masala Dosa also appears in the top five most ordered dishes online.
While it is fathomable why Biryani gets ordered online the most — it is a tedious process and extremely difficult to prepare and not everyone can get it right. One might say that up to some extent, even getting the Dosa right is also a strenuous task. One slip while preparing the batter, and your 36-hour-long efforts go down the drain. Still, I will take offense to the online delivery of Masala Dosa — because ordering it gives you nothing like what a Dosa is supposed to be.
Also Read: Millet dosa or Millet biryani? Read the fine print on the food fad of the future
It’s all about the experience
The major reason why I am concerned about India, specifically northern parts ordering Masala Dosa online, is that what they eat in the name of Dosa is nothing but a soggy salty lump with additional delivery charges and taxes.
Dosa, in my opinion, is an experience in itself and must be consumed even before you bat an eyelid once it’s off the pan/tawa. The biggest reason why online delivery fails here is in keeping the Dosa in a ‘restaurant-like’ form.
Unlike Paratha, Naan, Tandoori Rotis, or even a Pizza that is also supposed to be eaten hot and fresh, Dosa can neither be microwaved nor reheated on a tawa/pan, which is exactly why you won’t find people from Chennai ordering Masala Dosa online. When the ‘Chennai Super Moms’ know how to make the best Dosas at home, there is absolutely no question of even touching the phone. However, those who don’t know how to cook, still know what a Dosa is and what is not.
Consider this — a fan of Gucci or Prada, or any of those extremely valuable fashion couture, comes to the store to experience it and doesn’t buy things online. The hefty money is paid for the experience. Similarly, a Dosa is more valuable at the restaurant. Munching into the two-feet-long crispness at a food outlet is an experience similar to watching Chennai Super Kings live at Chepauk Stadium rather at home on TV. And unlike expensive fashion, Dosa is affordable and easily accessible.
Also Read: We are mad about Weingarten’s Indian food comment. But who decides what’s ‘Indian’?
What to do about Dosa deliveries?
Masala Dosa, not being popular in the ‘capital’ of the South — Chennai — explains why we have been getting it wrong all this time. Bangalore ordering more Masala Dosa could have been because of the migrants, said Fisdom App CEO SV Subramanya, and I certainly agree with him.
Here’s another – locals don’t order masala dosa on Swiggy -(gets terribly oily and soggy). Migrants do that all the time and Bangalore has more migrants than Chennai
— Subramanya S V (@Subramanya_SV) December 22, 2021
Lockdowns and Covid-19 have made going out tougher. If you are craving the dosa experience at home, the best you can do is order the batter, which most South Indians did. According to the Swiggy report: “Not only did Bangalore top the charts for ordering Dosas, but Dosa batter was also very popularly ordered by people in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Mumbai, with Instamart delivering over 8 lakh kgs of batter in 2021”.
If you don’t know how to cook, though, and are not interested in learning — brace yourself — the soggy salted lump is on your way home. If you want to call it a Dosa, then the most I can say is: “Dil behlaane ko ‘Ghalib’, yeh khayaal achcha hai.”
The poor Dosa, whose humbleness made it popular across the world, is now being destroyed by Instagram-worthy ‘innovations’ (yuck). Pizza Dosa, Chinese Dosa, cashew and raisins Dosa are still acceptable, but I can tolerate them only because of the experience — fresh, crisp, and in my tummy within seconds after being plated.
What I can not tolerate, however, is normalising those soggy bags of potatoes masquerading as Dosa. Start considering it a food ‘hate-crime’ or ‘sacrilege’. As a Punjabi, I apologise to all the people from the South for ruining the entire Dosa experience. But I would also like to take a moment to make an appeal since you have the brains and tech industry to innovate packaging. Please MODFA — ‘Make Our Dosas Fresh Again’.
Views are personal.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)