If I had to pick one Indian dish that is truly cosmopolitan in every sense, it would have to be the Dosa. Almost every country in the world has its version of sweet and savoury crepes, India has its dosas. These dosas are of so many kinds, that it is often hard to keep track of. Have you ever held a menu card of a South Indian eatery and turned to the waiter to ask for his Dosa recommendation because you were simply too overwhelmed by the number of options? Been there, done that. But this was until I stumbled upon the Mysore Masala Dosa and the Benne Dosa. Incidentally, both of them hail from Karnataka. ‘Benne’ simply translates to ‘butter’ in English. Also known as Davanagere Benne Dosa, it first originated in the city of Davanagere, Karnataka. Benne Dosa could be ‘khaali’ or plain, ‘open’ served without rolling, or ‘masala’ which has a spicy potato stuffing.

As you must have guessed by now, this dosa is prepared with copious amounts of butter. On this extra greased skillet, you drop a special batter made of rice, lentils, puffed rice etc. It looks a lot like the Masala dosa but is much smaller in size in comparison, what distinguishes it is the generous amount of butter used, making it ultra-soft and aromatic.

 


History Of Benne Dosa

Did you know Benne dosa is actually not that old? Somewhere in 1928, a lady named Chenamma migrated to Davanagere. To feed her children, she started preparing Dosas, Potato Palya, Chutney and selling the same in her modest eatery outside Savalagi Drama Theater near Vasantha Talkies at Davanagere. The dosas caught on like a house on fire among locals, and soon the spot became a popular haunt among dosa lovers.

It is said that she used to prepare the dosas with Ragi, but a decade later, her children came up with a new batter that comprised rice, puffed rice, lentils and butter. Soon this buttery dosa also became a city-wide sensation. Her son Shanthappa also opened ‘Shanthappa Dosa Hotel’ in 1944, which became the first sophisticated Benne Dosa eatery of Davanagere, it was located near Clock tower of old Davanagere. Her other son Mahadevappa, also went on to take the legacy ahead with his own eatery. He opened his eatery near Vasantha theatre, which sadly had to shut down, however, his elder son Ravi has his own eatery called the Ravi Benne Dosa Hotel which is on the church road. Mahadevappa’s younger son Viji, has his own eatery with Benne Dosa as a star highlight at Dental College Road.  Today, of course, you would find Benne Dosas across Karnataka and beyond.

Do you have a particular style of making Benne Dosas? Do share the recipe with us.