No Sin in Dosa

Meeting Dmitri at twenty three was something that just happened. Instant attraction. They didn’t fall in love, but like each other way too much. Back in the early eighties, folks are more conservative. Liking a lot, means holding hands walking. Talking and stealing kisses on the cheeks and grinning like fools. So the setting was set.

Every evening, Dimitri would escort his sweetheart on a short walk from the hostel and a gentle trudge up the slopes for exercises before their cheap meals for dinner or supper at the corner shop.

Brickfields before KL Sentral was built. Life was slower and one could still dodge cars to run to the other side of the road.

An integral landmark in Brickfields is the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) is located nearby. So it’s rather common to see a number of blind people walking around. They are so familiar with the area that they rarely encounter problems getting around. Most parts of Brickfields are now paved with guided walkways with tactiles designed to aid the blind.

There are also a number of proper massage houses offering Blind Men massage.

Along Jalan Berhala is The Temple of Fine Arts, which is essentially a cultural organisation offering various courses relating to mainly Southern Indian music, dance, and arts.

Brickfields also known as Little India is a haven for Indian food with its unique flavour and intoxicating aromas.

The restaurants offer up all sorts of gastronomical delights selling mostly colourful and delectable Indian food from its famous banana leaf rice to Dosa. (Indian pancake made from fermented rice flour).

There are Indian Sweet Shops with platefuls of delectable sweets made with ingredients ranging from fruits and vegetables to grains. Marzipan shapes and milk based sweets and desserts.

Even the names roll off like sweet velvety silk; Barfi, Besan Laddoo, Badam Ka Halwa, Coconut Khoya Peda, Mulpua.
Plain Dosa Photo by Doris Lim

Top of their supper’s menu is Dosa with Mutton Curry. Dimitri would to tell his sweetheart that the curry was the stuff that puts hair on girls’ chest. She would giggle madly every time he mentions this. A private joke.

She never tires of his narration of the right recipes. There were many versions of course.

Finding the real recipe soon became an obsession with Dimitri. They would eat this several times a week at different curry houses and finally settled on the corner shop. It was cool and had a view to the open fields. The real reason; Dimitri had made friends with the chief cook and the old man would on good days divulge a little of his spices.

Dimitri made it to the kitchen to watch the spice selection process. A small victory!
Mutton Curry. Photo by Doris Lim

The selection of chilli is the key element in getting the recipe right. The hotness and colour is equally important.

Spices include Poppy seeds (or KhusKhus) Fennel seeds (Saunf) Black peppercorns, Coriander seeds, Cumin, Cinnamon, Cloves, Chilli powder and Turmeric Powder. Slice onions ginger garlic paste and curry leaves to sauté. Tomato to add tartness and fresh coriander leaves to garnish.

And then there’s the mutton. A good mix of bone in mutton, small chunks and cubes with marbled fat. A good lamb mince. All makes a different tasting curry. Eaten with Dosa soaking up the spice and lamb fat makes everything perfect and wonderful in their world.

Cholesterol wasn’t a bad word yet in those days. Clogged veins are unheard off and animal fat in cooking is perfectly acceptable.

There’s really no sin in the Dosa, it is after all; merely a humble rice pancake. The sin is in the curry, or haven’t you figured that out by now.


Doris Lim is a popular freelance writer who blogs as Little Fish on travel and food stories here. Be sure to check out her other inspiring stories and follow her Instagram @SmartDoryID & Facebook to check out more places to eat delicious street foods or dine in the best restaurants!


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