[Photo Source: Kickstarter/DosaMaker]
The United States boasts an impressive legacy of inventors—and it looks like an Indian-inspired invention will successfully make that list.
After reaching their $50,000 Kickstarter goal, Indian-American entrepreneur, Arvind Krishnan and his Soul of India Cooking Company are about to release the company’s first product: a machine that makes the perfect dosa every single time.
The DosaMaker is a kitchen appliance that warms a small amount of batter into a thin, crispy dosa. Unlike the potential for error with a handmade dosa, the DosaMaker balances the quantity of batter and heat so that cooking a delicate dosa is simple.
“Making dosas by hand can be tough!” Krishnan said. “The art of making dosas typically takes a lot of practice and patience, and if you aren’t able to master the technique it’s difficult to create a thin, evenly spread dosa.”
The idea for a DosaMaker originated ten years ago, but Krishnan comes from an entrepreneurial legacy: his family is the founder of Nilgiri’s, one of the oldest food businesses in India. While working at Nilgiri’s and enjoying a dosa, he realized how difficult it was to find delicious dosas in the U.S. He knew that making dosas at home could be tricky, as the thin and delicate batter burns easily.
After returning to the U.S. from his time in India, Krishnan set out to create a household appliance that could cook up dosas anytime. He worked with his mom, an experienced Indian cook, to understand the challenges of making dosas at home.
Creating various prototypes was time-consuming, as Krishnan’s product is the first of its kind.
“We had to design the DosaMaker from the ground up, and our first major challenge was not having any product to reference or build from,” Krishnan said.
Krishnan and his team first proved his concept six years ago, and have been working diligently ever since to bring the DosaMaker to the kitchen counter.
“We then built and consumer tested about a dozen prototypes to perfect our design, and in the past year, we partnered with our manufacturer to make sure our design could be mass-produced,” he added.
Though desi homes have long been splattered with dosa batter, Krishnan believes the DosaMaker can introduce dosas into any American home.
“Everyone I knew enjoyed eating dosas, but most people couldn’t make them by hand,” Krishnan said. “Indian food and culture have also become increasingly popular in the U.S., and many food trucks and restaurants feature dosas on their menus. Some mainstream grocery stores even serve dosas in their prepared foods section.”
Krishnan also noted an understated versatility to dosa recipes, similar to the endless sweet or savory possibilities with French crepes.
“While I love eating traditional masala dosa, I grew up enjoying dosas with various fillings,” Krishnan said. “From peanut butter and jelly to eggs and cheese, my family used dosas as a healthy wrap or crepe.”
Additionally, dosas are considerably healthy, complementing an increased health-conscious food movement in the U.S.
“Most dosa batters are vegan and gluten-free, and I knew dosas would be a great addition to the mainstream health food movement,” Krishnan said. “We’re seeking to eat healthier, unprocessed foods, and limit our simple carbohydrate intake, which includes many types of bread and wraps. Yet we’re also seeking variety in our meals and aren’t interested in sacrificing great flavor.”
[Arvind Krishnan, the Founder of Soul of India Cooking Company. | Photo Credit: Sadaf Murad]
Krishnan founded Soul of India Cooking Company to not only make Indian food easier to cook at home, but also to introduce the ranging possibilities of Indian cuisine that go far beyond chili powder and garam masala.
“Many people in the U.S. are only familiar with one or two Indian dishes, and they assume Indian food is always spicy and leaves you with a heavy feeling in your stomach,” Krishnan said. “I want to show that Indian food is amazing because it uses a wonderful combination of spices to create flavor, but using spices does not mean that a dish is necessarily spicy.”
Krishnan’s Indian-American identity posits him well to know the potential of Indian cuisine to appease American taste buds.
“As an Indian-American who grew up eating meals made from a variety of cuisines–and at least one dish usually being Indian–I knew Indian food complemented other cuisines really well,” he explained.
After all of his research, Krishnan knows generally how a dosa should look, but the definition of an ideal dosa depends on the cook.
“In general, dosas should be evenly spread, have a nice golden color, and an airy texture that includes both crispy and softer sections,” Krishnan elaborated. “As long as you enjoy the dosa you’re making, there is no ‘wrong way’ to make a dosa.”
With this in mind, the DosaMaker caters to a variety of tastes.
“When developing the DoasMaker, we wanted to make sure that it’s capable of making different types of dosas to satisfy different preferences,” Krishnan said. “The DosaMaker can make paper-thin, potato chip-like dosas, and thicker, softer dosas, including uttappams.”
Whether an aunty ji’s dosa is better than a DosaMaker concoction is up for debate–but the DosaMaker does hold two distinct advantages.
“First, you can make thin, crispy dosas without using a lot of oil,” Krishnan said. “Second, with the DosaMaker’s elevated cooking position feature, you can also warm or cook your fillings, and this allows customers to make a variety of unique complete dosa meals with the DosaMaker.”
However, the DosaMaker doesn’t intend to compete with Indian aunties but allows every generation of Indian-Americans to enjoy freshly made dosas easily.
“First generation South Asians who may not be comfortable with making dosas love that they can now make fresh dosas at home and that the DosaMaker is portable and easy-to-clean,” Krishnan said. “The traditional scenario of the mother of the household making dosas for everyone else to eat—and then she is left to eat the dosas, which are usually cold, by herself—is no longer a reality.”
Krishnan and his dad have even used the DosaMaker to treat Krishnan’s mom with fresh dosas.
As of now, the DosaMaker has received over $55,000, surpassing its initial fundraising goal. Depending on how much a donor gives, one will receive DosaMakers, t-shirts, and even a dosa party personally hosted by Krishnan.
The DosaMaker has a projected retail cost of $199, and its anticipated delivery date will be March 2016.