[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Delhi has not succeeded in corrupting the dosa, the south Indian pan-fried dish of urad dal and rice batter.
The classical masala dosa – so pervasive across the country that it could be termed India’s national dish – is stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes and served with little bowls of sambar and coconut chutney. Although the Delhi dosa is similar to its homeland version in Chennai, some sulky purists complain that the sambar has too many vegetables or too little dal. The more justifiable complaint is that the capital’s south Indian culinary map is limited to the snack-like uttapam, vada, upama, idli and dosa.
Apart from sometimes filling dosas with spicy samosa stuffing, the only noteworthy adaptation Delhi has created is in replacing the potato with paneer, the most abused ingredient of North Indian vegetarian cuisine.
The menu presented by the mundu-clad stewards at Naivedyam, the south Indian speciality restaurant (since 1996) in Hauz Khas Village, includes paneer dosa, which is now served in many other south Indian eateries in the city.
Accompanied by two additional chutneys, chilli-mint and tomato-garlic, the crisp dosa encloses a juicy red mound of paneer, thoroughly scrambled with chopped tomatoes. The pungency of the sambar and the cooling rawness of the coconut chutney are still the same but used to the time-tested partnership with potatoes, the flavours get underwhelmed by the milkiness of the paneer. Since the stuffing is so soft and melt-in-the-mouth, paneer dosa seems order made for the toothless. A visitor from Chennai, however, may find it exotic.
Where Naivedyam, Hauz Khas Village Time 10.30 am to 11 pm Nearest Metro Station Green Park
Not made in Chennai