With my impending trip to India in only a few weeks, I started (did I ever stop? No) reminiscing about my last visit and all the amazing South Indian food.
The best bit about being in India is the fact that you get to eat Indian food for every meal. Seems quite obvious, but that’s spicy deliciousness for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and any snacks and drinks in the middle. I reckon my workmates would think I had lost the plot if I started turning up for work with an Indian takeaway every morning.
Now, in the UK we all love a good curry (apparently the UK has over 9,000 Indian restaurants and balti houses), but how often do we go for an Indian breakfast/brunch?
All Londoners (OK, South Londoners at least) are aware that Tooting is a South Indian cuisine hotspot. I myself have had a few dinners out in Tooting over the years, but never have I made the journey over there for a weekend breakfast/brunch, despite that being on my to-do list for almost 3 years. Until today; and I have a feeling it might become a bit of a regular thing…
Dosa n Chutny
With a glowing review in Time Out under its belt, I thought Dosa n Chutny would be a good place to start. (Plus it was the first one I got to after hopping off the bus at Tooting Broadway, and I was hungry…).
Three key things that indicated to me that Dosa n Chutny was gonna be my kinda place (in this order):
- Mirrored wall
- Orange furniture
- Smiling staff
With vegetarian and a “non-veg” menus to choose from, there are plenty of familiar curry dishes with rice and breads to choose from; but this was brunch. I needed Indian breakfast dishes; I needed a dosa.
What is a masala dosa?
A dosa is a pancake made from a batter of rice and black lentils (urad dal) soaked in water and left overnight to ferment.
It originated in the Southern Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, although I do believe it is now eaten widely all over India (they were certainly all over Mumbai, and I will find out if this is true for North India in a few weeks…)
There are lots of different types of dosa – paneer dosa, egg dosa, onion dosa – depending on what you want to stuff it with. The version that dominated my breakfasts in India was the masala dosa, which is a dosa stuffed with a mixture of potato, onion and spices.
Pav bhaji masala dosa was on the specials menu in Dosa n Chutny; having not heard of this combination I thought I would give that a go. Pav bhaji is a popular street dish originating in Mumbai, and is essentially spicy vegetables (bhaji) with a bread bun (pav). How this translates into a dosa? Correct me if I am wrong, but without a bread bun in sight, I think the pav bhaji masala dosa is masala dosa with some extra spicy vegetables. And it did not disappoint.
For just shy of £6.50 for a pretty special dosa, accompanied by coconut chutney and sambal, and a cup of chai, I was one happy lady.
The masala dosa appears as number 49 in CNN’s “World’s 50 best foods,” compiled in 2011 (although I am not completely convinced by their list in general, to be honest).