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Dosa gone digital

Updated on: 17 April,2024 07:21 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashish Kamble |

A restaurant in Borivali is blending technology and tradition with its new automatic dosa machine. We drop by to check if it’s a better batter idea

Dosa gone digital

Representation Pic

Making the perfect dosa is nothing short of an art form. From grinding the batter to the right consistency, to the satisfying sizzle of oil hitting the hot tawa, to carefully rolling one out onto a plate, every step is a tradition in itself. A joint serving South Indian staples like idlis, dosas and uthappams in Borivali — Dosa Anna — is shaking things upand might just be the biggest challenger yet to the age-old dosa ritual. With an automatic dosa-making machine, the joint claims to be able to dish out 2,000 dosas in a day; all automated. We decided to check out this new tech-powered innovation.

Outdoor seating at the restaurant. Pics/Devashish Kamble
Outdoor seating at the restaurant. Pics/Devashish Kamble

We are welcomed by the sight of an operator standing tall alongside the machine, almost as tall. This is the contraption that has set the neighbourhood abuzz. Locals from the food-loving suburb have labelled it the ‘digital dosa’, ‘no-touch dosa’, and even ‘dosa printer’. Founder Rohit Mendon settles the debate, “It’s an automatic dosa making machine. That’s about it. People love putting together creative names based on their observations, and honestly we don’t mind.” The dosa machine lets out a sustained sizzle, possibly in agreement.

An operator initiates the process
An operator initiates the process

We learn that the sizzling sound, in fact, is the machine cleaning the tawa before its next task. “Cleaning is often the most tedious and contact-heavy task. You might have seen some stall owners cleaning the tawa with a wet cloth, risking contaminating the tawa,” a staff member points out. A couple of minutes later, the machine is ready to dish out our order of a crispy masala dosa (Rs 90). The batter is poured out through nozzles onto the temperature-controlled tawa. Like clockwork, a roller swings out to spread the batter. And now, we wait.

The batter turns golden brown
The batter turns golden brown

We strike up a conversation with Mendon, a trained chef, again to unveil the story behind these automated dosas. “The world is embracing automation. Multinational food chains have been using it to standardise their offerings for decades. Being a South Indian, I often wondered why such automation doesn’t exist for our own cuisine,” he reveals, adding that the machine was procured from a Bengaluru-based manufacturer as an experiment in February.

Back inside the machine, things are turning golden brown. The operator scoops a generous portion of pre-made potato masala onto the tawa right in time. Another automated hand scrapes the dosa off the tawa, rolling it out onto our plate.  We learn that while plain dosas can be dished out with zero contact, more complex orders require manually adding masalas, podi, or chopped vegetables. Does it justify the ‘automation’ tag then? We leave it up to you. For us, it’s time to tuck in.

The dosa is rolled out
The dosa is rolled out

The dosa has a uniform consistency of golden-brown crispiness, and is sprinkled with a special podi that has hints of garlic and chillies, reminiscent of the Mumbai vada pav dry chutney. Served alongside three other chutneys — mint, coconut and tomato — and a Kerala-style sambar, it doesn’t take us long to get to the last bite.

All in all, if you’re looking for a quick, convenient snack and all things tech amuse you, Dosa Anna has all the makings of your new haunt. For this writer, who still believes that making a dosa by hand — the sizzling, spreading and rolling, all included — is a labour of love, it’s a fun innovation at best.

Dosa Anna
AT Lotus Building, Pranay Nagar, Vazira, Borivali West.
TIME 8 am to 10 pm, daily 
LOG ON TO @dosaanna_india

Dosa, the quirky way

A curated list of other innovative dosas that city foodies can tuck into

>> Pizza burst dosa: If the thinnest crust on a pizza still isn’t quite crispy for you, try this pizza that uses a dosa as a thin base with traditional pizza toppings to bring the best of both worlds to the table.
AT South Tiffin House, Borivali, Kandivali, Malad, Andheri.

>> Burj Khalifa dosa: Call it the heights of culinary innovation, this dosa, built using four layers of dosa with oodles of cheese rolled and stacked, is a hat tip to the Burj Khalifa.
AT Angel Dosa Center, Vikas Complex, Runwal Nagar A Plot, Norilipada, Thane West.

>> Matka dosa: This dosa comes with a side of chopped veggies and paneer in a creamy gravy served out of a traditional clay matka.       
AT Avantika Chennai Café, Raj Arcade, Mahavir Nagar, Kandivali West.

>> Masala dosa waffle: No tawas in sight here. Head to this unique stall where dosas are made in waffle makers and maple syrup gives way to desi ghee.
AT Rangjo, 461A, near Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga East.

**** Exceptional, *** Excellent, ** very Good, * Good,  Average. Dosa Anna didn’t know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals

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