“Have you tried idli-dosa yet?” This was my first question to Piyush’s Japanese –American friend Kenji, who recently moved to Mumbai for work. Kenji replied with an assertive “Yes. I tried the dosa at one of the Udipi restaurants across my office. The sambar is nice and spicy. I like South Indian food.”
Now if there’s one thing that Mumbai has no dearth of, it’d be the Udipi restaurants sprawling across the city; which serve anything but “authentic” South Indian cuisine. And after hearing what Kenji had to say, Piyush and I were convinced that Kenji would love authentic South Indian dosai and filter coffee.
Matunga’s King Circle is home to some of the finest authentic South Indian restaurants; Café Madras being one of the oldest and my favourite. On a warm Wednesday evening, Piyush and I with an apprehensive yet excited Kenji in tow, reached Café Madras for our dose of dosas. Tiny and cramped with people, we got to our table (yes, we had to share the table) and called for our Café Madras usual –Idli Butter Pudi, Mysore Dosa, Bisi Bhele Bhaath and my favourite, Set Dosa with Mulagapodi (Gun Powder Chutney) and piping hot Filter Coffee. And that was the day Kenji decided to never go back to those Udipi restaurants for South Indian food.
Growing up in and around Matunga, I have fond memories of gorging on slightly sweet Upma and the evergreen masala dosas and asking ‘Thambi uncle’ for unlimited servings of spicy sambar and coconut chutney at Mani’s Lunch Home, Matunga. And how can I forget Addai, Mani’s special dosas served with butter. A hearty meal at Mani’s would cost you anywhere between Rs.50-100.
I was introduced to Café Mysore, also at Matunga’s King Circle, by my Tamilian neighbour. The café that was shut for quite some time now has opened its door to its loyalists again. You must try their Rasam Wada, refreshing Kesar Lime Juice, Mysore dosa and of course, Filter Coffee. Got a sweet tooth? Then you must try the Mysore Pak and Kela Halwa.
Café Bean Garu is a new addition to my list of favourite South Indian eateries. Though not authentic, Bean Garu does a fine job of adding an interesting twist to the regular dosas. Not to forget the Andhra Filter Coffee and Filter Cold Coffee at Café Bean always keep me coming back for more.
However, if authentic South Indian food is not your style, try the twisted versions of the regular dosas like the Spring Dosa from the stalls at Juhu, near Mithibai College and the Mysore Masala Dosa at Manju Dosa in Khar West. Quick and easy on pocket, these dosas stalls serve the more Mumbai version of dosas.
Dosa, to me is comfort food. It’s light, quick and can be found almost anywhere in the city. And when paired with piping hot Filter Coffee, there’s little I have to crib about!
If you too have a favourite South Indian eatery in mind, don’t forget to tell us. The Filter Coffee’s on us!
Have your own dosa delights to share? Let us know in the comments below and we would love to add them here.
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