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New South Indian in Union Sq: Dosa Temple

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Thanks so much to maillard for posting about this new place near the Mkt Basket In Somerville.Having learned to cook So Indian food w/ friends from Bangalore 30 yrs ago, I have a particular interest in it and fascination with its endless variations w/in a limited but large pantry.The South Indian restnts I have frequented in the Boston area are(beginning w/ the worst and moving upward): Pongal,Billerica;Priya , Lowell; Udipi Bhavan, Lowell; Meena's Kitchen, Nashua; ;Biryani Park, Melrose.

Per usual, we tried alot of things today.

Highlights were the:

(App) Vegetable Cutlets

Enni Kathirrika- eggplant chunks in tomato ginger; unlike any other eggplant i have had in Boston;

bright flavors (maybe some tamarind?) and some heat

Palak Paneer- spinach and paneer- best i've ever had; particularly rich and nutty flavored (i thought it was pureed cashews but the chef said no, no nuts.)

Paper Dosa

Rava Dosa

both above dosa very well executed, but potato masala lacking in cumin and not as good as many others; contains slivered cabbage

Coconut chutney
Vegetable Uthappam- tart and toothsome and well done ,per my request

Good:

Medhu Vada - very fresh and light; i just prefer them not so light

Not well executed:

Avial- Coconut and yoghurt vegetables; many woody okra; not particularly well spiced

Pesseratu- Overcooked dosa; nondistinct batter but uppama filling good

Tomato chutney- serious uggggh; like doctored ketchup

Rice- have never before had overcooked/mushy unseasoned rice . maybe they pulled it off the lunch buffet steam table (buffet had just ended before we arrived)but still, no cumin?blah.

The menu includes a number of Indo-Chinese things that we did not try.

Service was fine but rather slow, esp. w/ only one other diner there. Atmosphere 'nil cafeteria' - green walls and booths, cream linoleum, a few photos on walls.

I bet Dosa Temple will be very popular and i look forward to hearing other CH experiences there. Thanks again to maillard!

http://dosatemple.com/Site2/home.html

udipi bhavan:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743920

biryani park:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/807275

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796559

meena's kitchen:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/775999

-----
meena's kitchen
W Pearl St, Nashua, NH 03060

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  1. We just got back from there after going to an event in Union. Luckily, Dosa Temple is open until 10pm and people walked in closer to that point so it could be a resource for semi-late dining in the area. When we arrived at 9:30, we were the 2nd table and a 3rd table showed up later. I did not have the same slow service that OC experienced. With the menu being so large and half the dishes new to me, I probably could have used a few more minutes. The food was brought out in a reasonable time period and they were attentive with the water. I do agree that the decor was stark but this didn't surprise me too much.

    I had the Poondu Kuzhambu which was tamarind-tomato based dish centering around garlic cloves. It was marked as hot, and it was spicy without being deadly and was more of a flavorful heat than a chili pepper one. The tamarind and garlic flavors worked rather well. It was a little shy on other ingredients, but the description was accurate so no fault there. Probably ordering some bread would have added some protein to the dish. Instead I had some of my wife's dish (her dosa order was why I didn't order bread in the first place).

    My wife had the Temple Special Masala Dosa which I tried. Unlike other dosas, the grain used was more substantial. I would almost call it buckwheat in texture and darker in color. The spicy chutney coating the interior layers in the rollup was a good touch as was the crunchy cabbage. I didn't try the condiments that came with the dish but she spoke highly of it.

    I definitely will be back especially since it means that we don't have to travel out to Lowell now for Udipi Bhavan.

    http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: yarm

      yarm, if you haven't been yet, i hope you'll try Biryani Park. I bet you'd really enjoy their food.

      -----
      Biryani Park
      105 Broadway (Route 99), Malden, MA 02148

    2. I've enjoyed the Ashland location a few times. Well prepared food at a reasonable price. I've come to not expect much service at Indian restaurants.

      1. opinionatedchef:
        "udipi bhavan:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/743920"

        I realize that this is a very small nit to pick, and I hesitated to bring it up, but folks will have MUCH better luck searching for more information about this restaurant, both here and on Google, using the correct spelling. It's Udupi Bhavan - two "u"s, only one "i."

        1. Isn't Biranyi Park known for Sri Lankan food, not Chennai style?

          Ritu Ki Rasoi also does South Indian, as well as other regional specialties. They cater to the tastes of the local expat Indian community. The time I went it seemed like a H1-B visa meetup with families. None the less, the owners go way out of there way to explain each dish throughly and even gave us some complimentary Kulfi, which was very appreciated.

          6 Replies
          1. re: tatsu

            i know not about Ritu. doko des ka?
            tatsu, if you read through the extenive BPark threads, you'll see lots of discussion of the foods they do. As the owner explained to me, throughout India you will see restaurants representing all different regions. BPark has dishes from other Indian regions . The owner is Sri Lankan but Sri Lankan specialties are a smaller part of the menu, which 'specializes' in the broader category of So.Indian food. hope that helps.

            ( and get this, the owner told me that [as small as the Boston sri lankan community is] there are sri lankans who won't come to her restnt because of a difference in the religions who have been warring over their homeland these last 30 yrs.) sigh.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              BP is on my list for the string hoppers and the like. For some reason it hasn't been throughly discussed here, although it was noticed by one Chowhounder on it's opening. (Which is amazing considering how far it is away from the street.)

              The dosas at RkR, coming out of the kitchen, are the real deal. A full 18 inches or so, right color, everything spot on. The Ravi Dosa did not disappoint either. In fact it's my favorite chaat/dosa place at the moment. It is just a bit hard to get to. They maintain a serious facebook presence and often have a specially themed regional menu on Wednesday nights. The woman who guides you through ordering is quite smart and helpful, without patronizing, even though the crowd is 99% Indian. They really get not only the food, but the service and marketing part of restaurant business, which is rare for such a modest casual dining place. And I mean really modest, plastic trays, Staples office tables and a quickie built restroom from Home Depot all in a building which seems to be the back of a old auto parts store.

              They are in Burlington and have a good website as well as fb page. Check them out.

              1. re: tatsu

                in your second sentence, you mean RkR , yes?

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Yes, sorry about that.

                2. re: tatsu

                  I liked but didn't love the one lunch I had at RkR, thought it was on the bland side. Great description of the room/atmosphere. What with being out of the way for me with godawful traffic, I haven't been back especially with BP so great and very convenient for me. But I've marked it for further exploration (along with Dosa Temple which is right in the nabe). Thanks.

                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                    Regarding Ritu Ki Rasoi, I think a must try is the Vada Pav, which was in high demand from the expats. It's pretty much a state dish of Mumbai's region. It is similar to a Japanese croquette sandwich, just like the one Cafe Japonaise sells oddly. RkR has other little dishes that look, well, nothing special to non-Indians, but are quite meaningful to expats, which I don't see anywhere else. That and the regional focus meals on Wednesdays get an extra star for effort from me. I think they simply try harder and it shows. Even the Kulfi was the real deal, it might of been pre-packaged, but it was real Kulfi, not ice cream with nuts and cardamon. The order taker had some raspberry sauce drizzled on it too, which made me kind of go, "Awww, they try so hard!"

                    I think it's the kind of place that excites the amateur gastronomist in me.

            2. First time eating Southern Indian cuisine - really liked it, much lighter than the heavy, goopy sauces I got from Kebab Factory recently, not as complexly flavored as Guru, but lighter still.

              Got idli sambar - bread dumplings in sauce - not hugely interesting, but satisfying - not sure if I would order again, but I think it is meant to be a humble dish.

              Mysore tomato rasam soup - this was awesome - just a broth with chopped tomato and some onion, cilantro - very complex spicing though - did not bring the serious heat, but could easily see this as a go-to for when I am fighting a cold. My favorite taste from the meal.

              DW had a simple green salad - did not try, but it looked fresh and it got ate.

              And my first ever dosa - the temple special masala described above - a decent amount of spice, crunchy cabbage as noted, enjoyed the green sauce and the red sauce, although as OC noted, not an awesome chutney, but it was fine by me.

              Pleasant folks - they gave me the food with the idea that I had already paid. When I called in the order, the gal taking the order hung up before I could ask how long. So a couple of kinks to iron out.

              For me, this meal on the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. I liked that it is all-veg, and I came away definitely wanting to explore more of the menu.

              12 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                bob, idli is prob the blandest thing on a so. indian menu. (even 'plain'rice usually has cumin seeds in it!) They are made from a rice and lentil batter that is steamed. the same lentils and rice turn into other batters that are made into pancakes (uttapam) and vada(fried 'donuts'), and other dishes. idli are a real comfort food for so. indians but i have never had any that made me want more.

                i didn't know you could get a green salad; that's great.

                just encouraging you to eat there sometime because the 'breads'- dosa, vada, etc- are so much better eaten hot and fresh from cooking.In particular, dosa lose their flexibility and get hard as they sit. So glad you had a good experience there. it's a fascinating cuisine!

                idli:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idli

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Thanks, OC - I should clarify that the "green salad" was their description - it was composed of lettuce, onion, carrot and cucumber (I think), with a light oil dressing.
                  Right on about the breads - we did not get any and were missing something to sop up the goodness (other than the dosa of course).

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    At the buffet it also had chickpeas on it. I admit I let a little tamarind date chutney touch it.

                    Idli is something I first had at Namaskar in Davis, as well as Patra, (Which I had canned prior to eating it in restaurants, but I love that dish as well, from Gujarat. Back then it was the only way to try non-North Indian food, in cans from Indian markets.) I have tried Idli at many places now, and Dosa Temple's is pretty good. Sometimes they are very fresh, quite fluffy and soft and that's when it's a sublime experience. The best one I've had was in an authentic "tiffin room" joint in NYC on Lexington. In a Sambar soup it's quite nice, but if the chutneys are good as well, it's great with just those accompaniments. I agree a mediocre Idli is rather forgettable, but a really good one, like good bread, can be quite addictive during a meal. It's great at breakfast.

                    1. re: tatsu

                      i first had patra at namaskar as well; love it. it is, approximately, colocasia leaves ( some varieties are called 'elephant ears' by some gardeners) spread with a paste of coconut and spices at least, then rolled up into tight cylinder, steamed and sliced crossways. leaves are usually available in this area frozen or fresh. love the toothsome texture.
                      it is indeed a specialty of gujarat, and the majority of indians in the boston area come from that region, so i've been told.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Patra has a paste of spices and Chickpea flour. Coconut, if ever so present, is usually for garnish in form of crumbles or hash-like strips along with cilantro. They could be eaten just steamed or quickly sauteed in a dash of oil and mustard seeds.

                        The biggest gujarati populations in the US are in NJ & Houston. There are a few very good gujarati restaurants in New Jersey (Jhupdi - Iselin & Vatan - Newark Avenue, Jersey City) and 1 on Lexington Avenue in NYC (Bhojan).

                      2. re: tatsu

                        I caught them at the tail end of a buffet service (thankgaia), so I axed them to whip up a freshy batch. Sublime, indeed, but gosh, for having the illest idli they sho do have the worst tomato chutney around. Which was fine, as I found their sambar to be particularly to my liking, incredibly similar to the version I grew up with.

                        Paper masala dosa had the requisite Dkembe Mutombo wingspan. I'm partial to dosas with a little less crisp overall (outer inch or two is great) but still excellent and, again, it didn't much matter if the tater masala was a throw-away, as long as I'm not sans sambar, I'm happy.

                        I'll be interested to see how the rest of the Chettinad chow is.

                        Ritu Ki Rasoi looks like the real deal. A chaat-shap, fo sho. Thanks, tatsu !

                         
                         
                        1. re: Nab

                          That tomato 'chutney'. When we sampled it, the day after they opened, i imagined their original batch had burned or something so they just grabbed some ketchup and added a few things. But it's been a week now, so they must just not be able to do a good one. weird....

                          1. re: Nab

                            Those idli look really good. The surface is still slightly rough like a ripped open nerf ball so it looks fresh out of the steamer. When I had my buffet ones, the insides were moist enough. Perhaps they don't sit out too well, after all, would you eat dim sum that had been sitting in a tray forever?

                            Nab anytime you wanna hit RkR let me know!

                            1. re: tatsu

                              tatsu, forgot to mention, but when I went in there they had the lunch buffet swinging. I almost never touch a buffet, and in this case I did a walkabout and also decided against it. The wait for fresh-steamed idli were well worth it, and probably a good idea to axe for achar as Bob Dobber did below, instead of that inspid tomato catsup they gots going.

                              RkR is the next stop - I will hit you up !

                            2. re: Nab

                              Wanted to note that, on my most recent take-out this week, in addition to the mild tomato chutney (which thinking of it as housemade ketchup may make it more palatable), I also got a cup of lime pickle - first time I've ever seen that in the Boston area given gratis with a take-out order...and it's fair to say it kinda kicked my butt...
                              Went from "It's not hot....it's really tart" to "wow....it's really hot..."

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                BTW, Nab, that achar was given without request, which was a pleasant surprise.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  The texture of the lime pickle is a wonderful change from mango pickles, I have to say.

                      3. Single visit so far. I enjoyed the buffet -- especially the mushroom and eggplant dishes they had.

                        I think this place has to be on the list for local vegans because they mark every vegan dish clearly and there is a lot to choose from.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: chickendhansak

                          We tried the buffet too -- yum! We went lateish, around 2 p.m., and they were still refilling the steam tables regularly. My favorite was the idli, which I ate with rasam. We were surprised when, after we thought we were done, they brought two small dosas to our table. The table next to us had pyramid-shaped dosas, which my husband speculated was the "Dosa Temple".

                          1. re: chickendhansak

                            I had lunch there today too and thought the same thing -- this is a goldmine for veggies and vegans as all the food is clearly marked, the menu says something like "Please let us know if you are exclusively vegan" and the food makes even this carnivore not miss meat (so much).

                            I had the hot and sour veggie soup, which was fine. Tiny minced carrots, ginger, green onions, cabbage and cilantro in a HOT broth. Made my nose run, which was welcome in today's cold, but it's nothing that special. Maybe Mulligatawny next time. Mysore Masala Dosa was huge, easily a foot and a half wide, folded over into a triangle shape instead of rolled. Agree on the tomato chutney, but the coconut and the sambar were both excellent. The crepe was stuffed with potato and a spicy schmear makes this "Mysore" I suppose. It also packed some heat.

                            Super nice gentleman enjoying the buffet for the "tremendous value" struck up a conversation with me about India, Indian food, etc. When I was overheard marveling at the size of the dosa, the server said "that's nothing, did you see the one on Facebook?" Then he pulled up his mobile to show me a picture of the six foot tall paper dosa. Really nice guy.

                            This is a treasure to have in the neighborhood. Next time you have to brave Market Basket, do yourself a favor and hit up Dosa Temple first to get some good veggie vibes going. You might be able to skip the Xanax!

                            Pix below: Dosa as presented with chutneys and sambar; Potato filling; Crispy thin crepe

                             
                             
                             
                            1. re: chickendhansak

                              This place hasn't been mentioned much since it opened so I thought I'd give the thread a bump. I've eaten the buffet there about ten times now and it is both good and consistent, meaning that it is a serious competitor for my interest in Kebab Factory, though obviously the food is quite different in both places. It's not perfect, but good value, feels healthy and there's usually at least one dish that's addictive. I haven't been to any of the other all-vegetarian places in the suburbs so I can't say how it compares, but it's definitely something a bit different for the area.

                            2. Finally made it to Dosa Temple and all three of us enjoyed it and will be going back. We were there for dinner, so in order to get a wide range of dishes, we ordered the Thali and Madras tiffin. Also couldn't resist the Gobi 65, but have to admit I like the gobi apps better @ Katmandu Spice and Kabab & Tandoor. The teen ordered the kids version of the cone shape dosa and it was pretty much adult size. She was very happy, and also got an order of noodles that was nice & spicy.
                              As for the thali, it was mostly N Indian standards, but there was an interesting green bean and coconut dish. Plus there was a lentil donut w/ sambar & rasam.
                              The tiffin was a great combo - dosa, idli, vada w/ sambar, and an excellent veg uttapam.

                              As stated above, decor is very minimal, but service was helpful. We'll definitely return!

                              1. Actually it's pretty mediocre food by Indian standards, but that's how all Indian restaurants in the region are. You have to go to NY and NJ for the authentic stuff.
                                That said, Dosa temple is fantastic for an area that has no good South Indian food. I tried the extensive Sunday brunch and was quite full and satisfied. Especially heartening that every one gets a freshly made dosa with the meal too for only 10 bucks.
                                Waiting to try food from their regular menu soon though....