5 Best Dosas in Los Angeles
There are as many kinds of dosas as there are moms in South India -- which is to say, a lot. This Indian breakfast and snack food is a thin, crispy crepe made from a lightly fermented batter of ground rice and lentils. The batter is ladled onto a hot griddle and then quickly spread to paper thinness by circling the ladle on the griddle in ever-expanding circles. A homemade dosas might be the width of a dinner plate; a restaurant or street-vendor dosa could be the length of your arm.
Rob Inderrieden Dosa at Mayura
A dosa is eaten by hand -- tear off chunks with your thumb and first finger of your right hand while anchoring the dosa with the other three fingers. While plain dosas were used for comparison's sake here, there's no need to limit yourself: They come wrapped around spiced potatoes (masala dosa), spread out even larger and thinner (paper dosa), made out of a wheat batter (rava dosa) and in many more variations. Turn the page for our five favorites.
5. India Sweets & Spices:
Ruth Welte Dosa and chutney at India Sweets & Spices
At this all-vegetarian bakery/cafeteria, you order and pay at one window, then take your order ticket to the kitchen window a few steps away. A good dosa offers two textures -- crispy, almost crackling, on the griddle-down side and chewily pocked with tiny air holes on the upper surface. This version, inelegantly served on a Styrofoam tray, nails it. It comes with the traditional accompaniments of coconut chutney and sambar, along with a pool of smooth tomato/chili chutney. The sambar, a lentil-based vegetable soup treated as a dipping sauce, is heavy on the cumin and features a generous portion of the green-bean-like vegetable drumstick. Drumstick pods are to be chewed on until only the fibrous strings are left, and then discarded. A highlight here is the coconut chutney -- thick, fresh and spicy -- it's an almost-iridescent green from the fresh chilis blended into the mix. The adjoining store, perhaps twice as big as the restaurant, is also worth a visit, selling everything from huge bags of whole-wheat roti flour to costume jewelry. There's even an aisle devoted just to cake rusks, the addictive love child of a biscotti and a nilla wafer, designed to be dipped in a cup of chai. 3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village; 323-345-0360.
4. Annapurna Cuisine:
Ruth Welte Dosa at Annapurna Cuisine
This strip-mall gem is another all-vegetarian spot. A meat-free menu can be a good indicator of authentic South Indian food, as many Hindus in the region avoid meat. Around Southern Indian cities like Chennai, many restaurants have a sign, like Annapurna's, that says "pure vegetarian," meaning not just meat, but also eggs are excluded (dairy's okay, though). The dosa here balances the spongy side and the crisp side perfectly, and comes with excellent coconut chutney, smooth tomato/chili chutney and a cuminy sambar richly studded with carrots. On my visit, one television played a cricket match and the other showed Bollywood-music movie videos. The lunch buffet here comes with a made-to-order smaller masala dosa on the side for each diner. 10200 Venice Blvd., Culver City; 310-204-5500.
3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, CA