Tracking down new and exciting foods and eating them has been my principle preoccupation since arriving in Malaysia almost six months ago. But I’ve also been happy to find old comfort food from my childhood that was tough to get back in the States. I lived in India for four years as a kid, and my favorite food while I was there was Dosa. Dosa is a thin, soft crepe-like food made from a sour rice flour batter. You can eat them stuffed with spicy potatos or plain dipped in dahl or sambar. It’s a lot like the sour flatbread that is common in Ethiopian and Somali cuisine. In Michigan there are many Indian restaurants, but they serve almost exclusively North Indian food. To my knowledge there is only one South Indian restaurant in the Metro Detroit area where you can get a dosa. That is Udipi’s, on Orchard Lake Road just south of 13 Mile. O Muslims! The restaurant is completely vegetarian, so have no fear.

In any case, when I first visited Malaysia, I asked around for dosa. Since there are many Tamils in Malaysia, I was sure it was available. But you see, dosa in Bahasa Malaysia means sin, so I didn’t get very far asking for it… Maybe for this reason as much as for any other, dosa is transliterated in Malaysia as thosai or tosai. Since I got that straightened out, I’ve been happy as can be. Many Indian restaurants here in Kuching sell them. You can get a tosai twice the size of your plate with sambar and dahl for one ringgit!

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. *arrgh* wonder if there’s instant ‘thosai’ here in Cardiff? BUT instant ‘roti canai’ can be found here, sold in a supermart managed by a Malaysian. No pun intended, but talking about food in the UK reminds me of Krugman’s article:

    BTW, ‘sambar’ should be pronouce & written as ‘sambal’, ‘sambar’ means ‘snatch’ hv a great weekend.

  2. Yes and no, Azlan. Sambar is a south Indian word for dahl. To be excruciatingly honest, when I wrote “dahl or sambar” up above, I thought sambar was the word for the spicey coconut chutney that they serve along with the dahl. Thanks to your comment I checked myself. So I should have wrote “sambar or chutney” or something like that. :p

  3. Thanks, Sister Daniyah –
    I’ve added you to my blogroll. Yeah, the food is amazing. Every kind of Chinese, Indian, and Malay food you could ask for, available practically 24hrs, and usually about 5RM a sitting. I honestly don’t know how McD’s and KFC survive here…

  4. “Sambar” is basically vegetarian curry with dhal.
    I have a picture on my fotplog archives “” that has a shot of “Dosa Corner” in Singapore. A friend sent an email with the title “tempat paling banyak dosa dalam duniya” nnyyyahahah!!!

  5. Yeah the food in Malaysia is pretty good with a variety of Malay, Indian and Chinese. I enjoyed some great dinners when I was in Kuala Lumpur in 1994.

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