One of the most popular snacking options across the country is the classic dosa, which has gained popularity all across the country. Such as been the popularity of this south Indian pancake, that every state has added its twist to it, right from a Mysore dosa, to cheese and paneer dosa to even butter bhaji dosa. So why exactly is a masala dosa adding to the size of your waist? Let's take a closer look.
The base or pancake known as the dosa is prepared using lentils and grains that are quite healthy and when prepared correctly, they can be extremely nutritious and can act as a balanced meal giving you a healthy serving of carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, and acceptable amounts of fats as well. But to make this “tastier” and a meal substitute of sorts, restaurants increase the number of fats by adding more than necessary oil or butter, processed cheese, etc., making this an absolute caloric bomb.
One look at the nutritional information will show you that more than 50% of the calories come from fats, which means you can easily overeat, which can contribute to weight gain. Most of these fats come from palm or vegetable oil that is poured over the dosa as it fries, and depending on the type of dosa that you opt for, you will either get another serving of butter or ghee and some restaurants even offer cheese dosa where processed cheese is added to the potato filling, and grated on top of the dosa, making them one of the most caloric foods you will come across. Dosas are usually served with sambhar and coconut chutney, and while sambhar is made using lentils, which is extremely healthy, it's the added “taka” that is added to both the sambhar and coconut chutney that makes them unhealthy.
Dosa is not a light snack, which is quite evident if you look at the nutritional information. What makes it worse is that many restaurants add refined flours, sodium bicarbonate, to reduce the fermentation time and to make the dosa extra crispy. To add to it, a masala dosa comes loaded with a large serving of a potato mixture that is cooked in fats, and since potatoes are extremely starchy, it can cause an insulin spike, that results in weight gain. As mentioned above, many restaurants offer variants to the masala dosa such as spring masala dosa where Chinese noodles cooked in oil are added to the dosa, or a Tawa bhaji dosa, where it is filled with pav bhaji that is cooked in butter and oil.
If you calculate the macronutrients of the dosa, you will notice that a mere 7.8% of the total calories come from protein. This small amount of protein comes from the lentils and legumes in the dosa and sambhar, which is not just inadequate, but also incomplete, as it will not comprise of the 9 essential amino acids that will help you gain lean muscle mass.
While dosas may not be as unhealthy as some of the other dishes that we have covered here on our website, you always have healthier options such as protein bars that can help you with your mid-day hunger pangs. And if you still crave a dosa from time to time, it's okay, so long as you opt for it once in a while.