City Food – The Perfectly Impure Dosa, Indian Coffee House
The definitive North Indian version.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The romantics celebrate the Indian Coffee House for its turbaned waiters and torn rexine sofas (which, alas, have been replaced by steel chairs). The idealists, who believe that “another world is possible”, come here to strategise on their ongoing protest movements. Many others float into the place because… well, they are told it is iconic.
To be sure, nobody comes to the Coffee House for its coffee. The Delhi Walla‘s affair with this Connaught Place landmark is more prosaic.
I’m devoted to its masala dosa.
Please don’t tell me that I can get a truly authentic dosa in a nearby outlet that’s straight from Chennai. I love the Coffee House dosa precisely because there is nothing South Indian about it. The sambhar is like a typically spicy Punjabi gravy with a curry-leaf treatment and the coconut chutney is tangier and more sour than the Tamilian original. And did I mention the super-spicy dosa stuffing? It is almost as if the cook scooped out potatoes from inside a Chandni Chowk samosa.
Many Coffee House regulars like to lounge on the terrace, especially now as the summer is ending. The atmosphere out there is infectious. Tables teem with activists of sorts sitting in circles and loudly debating cause and effect while waiters hover with sandwiches and cutlet platters.
I, however, always prefer to have our beloved dish in the west-facing hall inside. The dosa — with its knife and fork — is too decadent a thing to flaunt in front of people who might be planning a strike the following day.
Dosa with a difference