South Indian Breakfast: The Backstory Of Pesarattu Dosa
Image Credit: Pesarattu aka MLA dosa

Spreading the rice batter on a huge pan and letting it become crispy thin is a common sight in many south Indian homes in the morning. The practice of making dosa for breakfast has been picked up in many parts of north India as well these days. For the unversed, dosa is a crispy desi crepe made with rice batter that has been fermented and then cooked, to be stuffed with a nice spicy filling.  

Paired with sambar, coconut chutney, and a few other condiments, dosa is a filling and appetising breakfast choice for many. Over time, a variety of dosas have come up. One such interesting variety is the Pesarattu Dosa or MLA Dosa. Why is it called so, you ask? Here’s why.  

Etymology of Pesarattu Dosa  

Did you know that this dosa was never a part of a regular restaurant or café menu? The origin of this dosa can be traced back to the legislative assembly of Andhra Pradesh. Legend has it that a few MLAs demanded something different in their dosa. The MLA headquarters saw the birth of the Pesarattu Dosa, in lieu of satisfying these officials.  

For the uninitiated, ‘pesarattu’ refers to green moong (or green gram dal). The dosa is made with a batter prepared from this lentil. However, the final dosa is an outcome of two different breakfast dishes - upma and dosa. Instead of stuffing the crispy thin dosa with a spicy potato filling, the cooks at the legislative assembly’s cafeteria decided to stuff it with freshly-made upma and serve hot.  

Upma is a semolina-based breakfast dish from south India, where it is roasted and cooked with veggies. The invention of  Pesarattu Dosa blew the minds of the MLAs in Andhra Pradesh, and they ended up treating it as their special dish, which was only available on order and never mentioned in the regular canteen menu of the Hyderabad quarters.  

Interesting much? Well, the origin of dosa itself is so intriguing that each new variation ought to have its own story to tell. Legend has it that the dish dosa comes from the Kannada word ‘dosha’, which means ‘vice’ or ‘offence’. It is said that a Brahmin tried to break the rules and commit a sin by consuming alcohol. In the process, he fermented rice to make his own booze. However, after failed attempts, he poured the rice batter on a pan and cooked it. This ended up becoming the dosa that we know today.