In the UK there is no shortage of Indian restaurants. It has been said that the Chicken Tikka Masala is now the national dish. Yet so few of the restaurants serve authentic Indian food. A very small number seem to serve food that is anything like as good as that you will find in India. Then try to find a good South Indian restaurant, you could be struggling. However Chennai Dosa could well be here to rescue you.
I love South Indian food, and so paid a visit to the newly opened Chennai Dosa in Stretford Mall, Manchester. It was a little bit of a drive, and on first arriving at Stretford Mall, I was a little disappointed. A wet, northern day and an uninspiring shopping mall. Yet in this a little gem with a taste of South India. We walked in to a restaurant that straight away made us feel like we were in the canteen style dining places of Chennai. It was a struggle to not say ‘Nandri’ instead of thank you. The menu has all the things we would want from a South Indian restaurant, and more than we could try in one sitting. Vadai, Uttapam, Paper Roast, Gobi 65 were all there. Non-veg options are available with the likes of chicken 65 and the intriguing crab dosa. However, between us we had Masala Dosa, Poori Masala and idiyapam with veg kurma.
The Dosa was very good, the masala inside was less spicy than in India, possibly to try and please the British palate, and we had some discussion on whether or not it was crispy enough. It was overall very good.
The Poori were huge, wonderfully puffed up, and again served with masala.
The veg kurma served with the idiyapam tasted almost exactly like that served in the Doveton Hotel in Chennai, it was wonderful.
These delights alone would be enough, but it did not finish there. There has to be
a dessert, for which we had payasam, pista ice cream and gulab jamun with ice cream. Of these the pista ice cream was the least exciting, being served on a stick and looking distinctly manufactured and bought in. The payasam was nice and authentic, the Gulab Jamun was heavenly.
So far, so good and with all of the items so far costing less than £3 each, very good value. Well, unless you compare it to India, then my Dosa cost at least six times the normal price.
Overall then, a very enjoyable meal and at a reasonable price, what more could we ask for?
Coffee. We could ask for coffee. So we did, hesitantly, do you have coffee? Is it South Indian coffee? Yes, Yes is the answer, proper real south indian coffee, served as it should be in metal cups, you had to add your own sugar, but then, after a short time of mixing you have that wonderful sweet, milky, hot coffee that is the fuel to South India, a sweet nectar that lifts your spirits and energy. A wonderful coup de grace to finish the meal.
A great way to see a part of a culture is to eat their food. On Chennai Challenge team members get the chance to eat the food in India, with little chance of avoiding it. If you want to get an idea of South indian food, then go to Chennai Dosa. There are branches across the UK, so have a mini-immersion in a new culture, go and try some real food.