It’s been way too long since I last had authentic south indian food. It’s definitely a challenge, considering the curry houses you get in the UK are mostly northern indian, with their thick vindaloos and naan bread. Don’t get me wrong, I love northern indian cuisine. I’ll be very satisfied if I had a freshly made peshwari naan and a serve of rich butter chicken. However, south indian food is HOME. It’s the taste of Singapore and Malaysia, it’s a reminder of the good old days by the roadside coffeeshop – eating dosa (or in Singapore, we spell it as thosai) dipped in curry chicken or dhal. Dosa is a popular southern indian pancake / crepe that is made from rice and urad dhal (black lentil).
I have to thank a couple of good friends in who live in the UK for introducing Chennai Dosa to me. There is only one way to describe this place – dosa heaven. Chennai Dosa is in fact a chain restaurant. They have many branches all over the UK and on their website’s home page, they proudly claim to be ‘…probably the best dosa maker in Europe…’. I haven’t actually come across any other dosa restaurant in the UK, so to me – they certainly live up to their claim.
It’s not only comfort food, it’s very affordable comfort food. We were lucky enough on our first visit to the Tooting Bec branch that we didn’t have to queue for a table. Squeezing ourselves in the tightly laid out restaurant, we promptly assigned ordering duties to our malaysian-indian friend. Thanks R!!
We started off with Poori Masala – two deep fried puffs of wheat bread, served with potato masala and chutney. The bread was fresh with a good chewy texture and best eaten with the fragrant potato masala.
Following the poori masala, we then gorged ourselves with chicken curry, fish curry, mutton curry, dhal, vegetable sambal, chilli chicken and sides of fresh, warm dosa and rice. The curries were the typical southern style type – packed full of flavour in the slightly deceiving-looking ‘watery’ gravy. The Chettinadu curries (Chettinad is small part in southern tamilnadu which is famous world over for its unique cuisine) are made from ground chillies, coriander and fennel, coconut and several other Indian spices. They are delicious and can be rather fiery!
And saving the best for last – the best mango lassi I have ever tried in the United Kingdom! The creamy, yogurty, golden mango lassi was like pure pleasure nectar. Unlike many lassis, where the pungent taste of yogurt comes through rather forcefully, this version had just the right hint to remind you that you are indeed drinking yogurt, but the sweet mango juices comes through and it is totally addictive – albeit a tad too sugary. Having said that, I will not hesitate to have more of that awesome nectar at my next visit.
33 Upper Tooting Road
Tooting Bec, SW17 7TR