It was the 1950s and her husband was a junior diplomat, one of the first posted abroad after Indian Independence. This meant entertaining streams of Indian visitors, official and otherwise. All of them were desperate for Indian food. Since my grandmother was from Kerala, that meant dosas, the savory South Indian fried crêpes that even the most parochial North Indian knew and liked. To make the batter, rice and small black lentils called urad dal had to be soaked for hours, then pounded repeatedly on a quern, a flat stone hand-mill, to form a thick, creamy paste. Luckily, the Indian government paid for a cook, a young man from Kerala. He had to do the pounding in the morning, since the batter took a day to ferment, even helped by the warmth of a basement boiler. Dosa batter lacks the elastic gluten necessary to trap large, quick-forming bubbles, so no yeast is added; dosas depend on natural fermentation and small, slow-forming bubbles for their lift.