Discovering Dosa: Bringing Hindi Class to the Kitchen

Hindi Cooking Class
Hindi 102 Cooking Class

In Kusum Ji’s Hindi classes, learning goes far beyond the expected scope of fluency in the language itself. Large portions of every semester are dedicated to significant exposure to other aspects of Indian culture, from studying Bollywood movies to writing romantic haikus; but a dive into Indian customs would be severely lacking if we didn’t explore the expansive role of cooking and food in Indian society.

In Hindi 102’s most recent cooking class, we learned to make Moong dal dosa and mango lassi. We all collaborated (some of us with questionable knife-handling technique) to accomplish a colorful spread of chopped vegetables alongside the dosa batter and pre-prepared moong-dal. We took turns pouring and frying the batter to construct our dosa, a skill which was quickly mastered, and then we stuffed our creations with our chosen filling.

Though there wasn’t always a task at hand in the small kitchen, there was a certain air of togetherness as we worked alongside each other to create a seemingly complicated – but, in reality, simple – dish on our own. Aside from the cooking itself, the class was relaxing as we snacked on pani puris and warm chai, with our free entertainment being our classmates’ struggle to make mango lassi. For many students, this was the first authentic, homemade food and chai they’d had in months, which made it all the more charming and appetizing. And, of course, there’s nothing more satisfying than eating food that you made yourself.

Beyond learning the basics of cooking, we also got the opportunity to converse in Hindi in a more realistic, casual environment, which is a really important aspect of learning a language that Kusum Ji never underestimates. As always, I’m looking forward to the next activity Kusum Ji has planned for us.

Here are a few comments about our cooking class

Isha, "Cooking class was one of my favorite classes. I really liked making the dosas. I think the food was very healthy. The subzi had many vegetables and the dal which the dosas were made out of is also very healthy. Also, there were grapes to snack on! In the class, I made the dosa and helped as needed for making the other foods. My ‘aha moment’ was stuffing the dosa because my filling usually always comes out, but this time I learned how to properly keep it in the dosa."


Prisha, "I enjoyed the cooking class a lot! I think we had a better amount of food than we did last time. The food was healthy, except for the mango lassi, but mango lassi is not meant to be healthy anyway. I do think that making the lassi was a bit difficult without milk, though, but maybe you don’t need it. I helped make the pani puri, and I made my own dosa. My ‘aha moment’ was making the dosa because I don’t think I’ve ever made a successful dosa before; it was easier than I thought it was, but I definitely need more practice!"


Tara, "I really enjoyed the cooking class (especially because 204 had prepared the ingredients before. That’s usually my least favorite part of cooking!). The chai and pani puri were great snacks and I enjoyed Sayuri and Prisha’s assembly line of pani puri (delicious!). My ‘aha moment’ was learning to stuff a dosa – my Ammamma does not often make dosa with fillings so learning how to make moong daal dosa was particularly interesting. I helped make lassi with Vishal and learned how to make it with more yogurt than I had ever made it with before – this was especially valuable and made me very popular with my parents when I returned home for spring break. All in all, our cooking class, as always, was a valuable exercise in both Hindi and cultural immersion."


Rishi, "The cooking class was a great experience. It added a very unique and enriching angle to our in-class studies of Hindi language and culture. I really enjoyed the variety of food/drink we had, and helping make the mango lassi with Amruth and Saphal was fun. I thought the dosas were great too, but I think making a dish in one big batch that everyone contributes to would also be a valuable opportunity in the future. Overall, the food seemed to be fairly healthy–  the moong dal dosas were packed with protein and antioxidants, but the mango lassi contained a decent amount of sugar. I think this was a chance to come together as a class in a collective and fun effort, and it has made Hindi class both last semester and this semester an extremely fruitful learning experience. My ‘aha moment’ here was watching the consistency of the mango lassi really come together nicely despite adding thick yogurt to it."


Vishal, "As expected, I had a ball at cooking class. I was a fan of everything on the menu so I was eager to enjoy the fruits (and literal vegetables) of our labor. I sliced vegetables prior to their food processing and also made three dosas. I saw improvement with each one but I know I can hone my skills even further. It was quite convenient to have batter remaining from the previous class so we could get straight to flipping and sipping. I made a batch of lassi with Tara and we were painstaking in our preparation of a pitcher with perfect proportions of the two ingredients. In the past, I have made mango lassi with rose water and fresh mango but ours turned out nicely. After my positive experience with our first cooking class I had high expectations for this semester and I was not disappointed."


Shloka, "I really enjoyed cooking class, and it’s one of my favorite classes. The food was healthy because the dosas were made of dal, and the stuffing had various vegetables which gave the dish a lot of nutritional value. We also had a lot of things to have with our dosas like pani puri and mango lassi. Next time, I think it would be helpful to assign roles to people beforehand so that the work can get done more efficiently because at times I didn’t know how I could make myself useful. My ‘aha moment’ was when I actually successfully made my own dosa–I have seen my mom do it many times before and was worried that I would not be able to spread it evenly or flip the dosa without breaking it."


This workshop was supported and funded by Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.