Dosas are fermented crepes native to South India. When we first opened Pondicheri, we had no intention of putting them on the menu. They can be finicky to make and our kitchen had not had much experience or success with them in the past. I had a young cook Mary working for me at the time who had travelled to India, brought back a recipe from there hand written by a famous Indian chef that we first started playing with. It took us a few months of experimenting to get the batter to a good consistency yielding crisp tasty dosas. We decided to embellish the usual rice lentil mix with a shot of ragi, a powerful super grain red finger millet native to India. I wanted to have the best tasting dosa in town! After much trial and error, the dosas turned out fantastic with a deep yeasty flavor and a lovely reddish brown hue. Next came the fillings. Traditionally, dosas are filled with a mashed potato masala and served with sambhar (a lentil curry with vegetables) and coconut chutney. While I love the way this tasted, it felt so heavy that I always felt like I needed a nap afterwards! I wanted to create tasty healthy fillings that replenished not depleted one’s energy. We decided to play with various vegetable fillings in the dosas and thereby our dosa menu was born!
Fast forward to a few years, we now consider ourselves pros at making dosas and run them on our breakfast and lunch menu. We have done fillings like smoked eggplant puree and paneer; roasted fennel and pear; shrimp or cauliflower cooked with Indo Chinese flavors like Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, ginger, garam masala in a chili soy sauce. We serve with them a fragrant soup made from butternut squash, lentils and fresh turmeric flavored with mustard seed and kari leaves. Our green dosa is probably the most popular one on our menu. It is lined with spicy pumpkin seed chutney then topped with sautéed greens with a coriander seed pop. My personal favorite is the egg dosa, an open faced beauty with a whole egg smeared and cooked directly on it with splashes of herbs, beet juice and sesame seeds for a morning fix. Every Meatless Monday, we run a Dosa Dreams special and do one with different fillings…some being on the wilder side like a mac and cheese dosa or one sprinkled with cocoa powder, avocado and braised mushrooms.
When Melissa Clark of New York Times came to Pondicheri for lunch, she tried our Green Dosa and fell in love with it. I offered her the recipe; she agreed to try it out and tested it at home. A few weeks later, the recipe was published in the New York Times!
If you’re looking for NYC’s best Dosa, come to Pondicheri Indian Restaurant today!