I’m on a mission from Shiva

And so the debate over the best Mysore Masala Dosa ensues.

Today I tried something new. I set off after breakfast with a mission: find the best Mysore Masala Dosa in Mysore. Well, that and a sherwani – a ¾ length kind of man dress made of silk that is worn at weddings – but more on that later. Or not. My old routine for heading into city centers after arriving at my hotel on a bike was to use taxis or autorickshaws. The primary reason is that getting lost in an Indian city on a big, heavy motorcycle when it’s oppressively hot and your depressingly tired really, really sucks. Today I cheated a bit and set off on the bike with a little Indian lady in my Bluetooth headset chanting step-by-step directions from Google maps. Yes, she did send me in circles several times but when I consider that first time I came to India – 25 years ago – not only was there no GPS but there were no road signs either, I accepted her artificially intelligent instructions without hesitation. With the sound of Indira Google in my ear as a safety net, I decided to wander aimlessly on the bike for a few hours as you might when ambling through the narrow lanes of an old European town. I spent hours getting deeper and deeper into the city, dosa by dosa, through residential neighborhoods, through inner-city dairy farms, through electrics town, transmission town and wrought-iron fence town. (most commercial districts focus on one commodity so you could have a whole block of guys selling screws or women’s undies or whatever). For showing me a new way explore the densest corners of India, I thank you, Indira Google.

Back to the dosas.

Dosa is a simple food served for breakfast or lunch. Try ordering one for dinner in India and you will be laughed at. To find the one most adored by Mysorians, I asked the barber who had just pruned my scalp and straight-razored my face for $2. He took me to the door of his stall-like shop and recited a stream of directions. I managed to retain the first 2 or 3 steps. But I did recall the name – Hotel Vinayaka Mylari. I wasn’t really hungry – I had eaten 4 already – but I was on mission from Shiva so pulled out my phone, Googled the restaurant, mapped the route and hit ‘start’ to have Indira calmly guide me there through the mid-morning traffic crush. The Hotel – really a hole in the wall restaurant with 5 tables – employs the standard approach of seating you at any table where there is a spot. I was tripled up with two young dudes on a day trip from Bangalore out to find – you guessed it – the best Mysore Masala Dosa in Mysore. We talked about typical guy stuff – work, motorbikes, girls – and food. Unlike the traditional variety with a thin, crispy shell, the Mysore version is more like a crepe and is smeared on the inside with chili paste before plopping in a hefty load of potato cooked with masala spices. The flopped over pancake then receives a spoonful of soft butter and is served with some coconut chutney that was so delish I could have eaten it all by itself.

Was it the world’s best Mysore Masala Dosa? How the fuck should I know. I’m not a dosa expert. But I can unequivocally declare that it was the most fun I’ll ever have trying to find the world’s best Mysore Masala Dosa and I guess that was the mission Shiva had for me all along.

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