City Food – Masala Dosa, Sadar Bazar
New in town.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Small and unpretentious. If it were to be in Paris, it would have been thought of as a neighbourhood bistro. But here in Gurgaon, it is simply Meenakshi Dosa Café.
Sadar Bazar received its new landmark late last month. “I opened it on 20th November,” says owner Hemant Kumar, who is a native of Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh but speaks in fluent Hindi. The most endearing part of the café is its street-facing dosa counter, just outside the entrance. The cook, Mr Fareed, rustles out the dosas with expressions as solemn as a writer at work, and looks completely ignorant of the fuss he causes on the busy street. The sizzling sound of the dosa batter spreading on the hot pan is severely distracting to the passersby. This afternoon, a busy pedestrian, talking on his phone, instinctively slows down while walking as he spots a dosa-in-progress. He casually walks towards the café and glances through the menu, while still chatting on his phone. The cook, meanwhile, has filled the dosa with its customary ‘aloo’ filling. He deftly rolls the dosa into a long flute-like shape, and since this one is for a takeaway, he slides it inside a long paper bag. It is handed over to a hooded woman who carries it away, with the top of the dosa peeking out of the brown paper bag. The scene is suggestive of a Parisian going back home with the bakery’s fresh baguette.
While one table is placed outside for al fresco diners, by the busy street, the café has an interior consisting of a long, narrow hall filled with four plastic tables. The walls are painted grey, but the place still looks colourfully funky, thanks to a bright yellow door and two flashy blue plastic curtains. Sitting inside gives a feel of seclusion. The crowded bazar is reduced to a low-volume soundtrack.
The eatery makes many kinds of dosas. The classic masala version is dependably crisp and tasty. The accompanying coconut chutney is deliciously fresh. If only the sambhar were less watery. And although it’s called a café, no coffee is served. But there’s a lovely ‘chai’ stall just next door, so no cribbing on that point.
Like a bistro