A kitchen in an Indian restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queen, NYC
THE RESTAURATEUR, a young Indian man; a chef
(THE RESTAURATEUR is at work in his Jackson Heights eatery. He prepares a dosa.)
How to make, and serve, a Jackson Heights Dosa.
Step one: Be born. The importance of this step cannot be overlooked. New Jersey or Puducherry, a small town or large city; It makes no difference. But the best dosa comes from the south. So, say, be born in Ernakulam.
Step two: Grease the pan with cooking oil. Turn the heat on to a nice medium. That is the only time you will say the word “medium” at this restaurant. “Hot,” “Spicy,” yes; “Medium,” no.
Step three: Throw yourself completely into something imaginative as a child. Turn a tree into a far away castle. Become consumed with drawing butterflies. In certain cases, this can arise from some kind of trouble. For example: Have your parents die at a young age. Move in with your aunt in the country, who’s very kind and old fashioned. She’s a wonderful cook. You watch her in the kitchen. You watch her make step four of a dosa.
Step four: Pour half a cup of dosa batter into the pan like a pancake. Spread into pan. Do not be alarmed if the dosa develops tiny holes as you spread the batter. This is normal.
Step five: Fall in love. Feel rejection. Fall out of love.
Step six: Baste the dosa with oil. When the upper surface begins to look cooked, flip the dosa. By this time, ideally, the surface that was underneath should be light golden in color. Like me. Allow to cook for one minute after flipping the dosa. Become tired of dosas. Allow your mind to wander. Meandering, your mind guides you to…
Step seven: Long for something far away that you do not know what it is. Imagine a life that is where you will not feel your love rejected. Watch TV. Become anxious.
Decide on a change. Move to America, where your cousin tells you you can get a job in his restaurant. In Queens, settled, you experience love again. It is rejected. However, you save. You buy a car. American. A Camry or a Saturn. Used, it runs like a dream, a dream you had as a child while you watched your aunt make dosas in her kitchen in Kerala.
Step eight: Fold it in half and allow to cook for 30 seconds more. Sing while you do this. I prefer Fine Young Cannibals.
(He sings “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals, or a similar late ‘80s hit.)
Step nine: Work. Grow weary of dosas. Realize you are at a crossroads. Take a deep breath, and prepare for the final push. A last dosa, before something new.
Exit the kitchen into the dining area. Don’t forget to bring the dosa! Serve dosa with side dishes like South Indian Coconut Chutney, or Gunpowder Chutney and Sambar.
Always serve with a smile. Ask if everything is alright. Nod in approval, especially if you anticipate a decent tip. They may have asked for a filling of some kind, which you have to make. But that is another story.
copyright © 2010 Les Hunter. All rights reserved. _________________________________________________
Les Hunter’s plays have been produced at Theatre 167, Jackson Rep, Bates College, Artistic New Directions, and Brooklyn Playwrights Collective. Playscripts, Inc. published his play Cyrano De Bergen County, New Jersey. His play To the Orchard received the 2007 Foundation for Jewish Culture “Theatre Project Grant.” Les has written for American Theatre Magazine and offoffonline.com. MFA from Boston University; PhD candidate at Stony Brook University. Les’s Web site: www.leslielarshunter.com.