City Food – Mathew’s Masala Dosa, RK Puram
The real dosa.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s tough to find a masala dosa in Delhi that isn’t compromised with the city’s over-spiced aesthetics — the dosa served in the Indian Coffee House has a potato filling fit enough for a fiery Lajpat Nagar samosa. But weep not. Here’s one of the best places to experience authentic masala dosa.
Head to Mathew’s Café in RK Puram, the capital’s mini Tamil Nadu. The owner, Isaac Mathew, 62, however, is not a Tamilian. A native of Ernakulam in Kerala, he arrived in Delhi after finishing school and set up this roadside shack in 1983, just outside the Delhi Tamil Sangam community centre.
Anyone used to the real dosa will find no surprises here. Mathew’s dosa is crisp, its filling lightly spiced, and the accompanying sambhar is a tasty symphony of bhindi, baingan, lauki, and imli. The cook grates the coconut to make a refreshing chutney beside the cash counter.
Also try the flaky, multi-layered malabari porotta. Its side dish — korma — comes enmeshed with aloo, gobhi, matar, gaajar and beans. Veg pulao is also on the menu along with usual suspects such as idli and upma. You may also like to ask for something called ‘set dosa’, a spongier, smaller version of dosa served in a set of three, minus the potatoes. Filter coffee is dark and stirring.
The café’s employees sit under a peepal tree, chopping sackfuls of onions and other vegetables. Service is fast. There are tables but no chairs. Stand and eat with fingers. Opens daily from 7 am to 10 pm.