Tag Archives: dosa

Dhal vs Lentils – Tastes of Faraway Lands

I first got introduced to lentils when in my pre teens my mother and my older sister decided to go on what was colloquially called a ‘health kick’. My mother who suffered from terrible migraines, was prepared to do anything to get relief from the merry go round of severe headaches and pill popping to try and relieve them. My sister as I remember was becoming aware of her health and body as girls tend to in their young adult years. It was also  at the end of the hippy era where sprouts, chickpeas and alternative living were in fashion.  Things such as cottage cheese and tofu appeared in the fridge, ryvita crackers and vogels bread replaced the thick soft white bread we had been brought up on, alfalfa sprouts were being cultivated in an agee jar on the window sill and hard, flat, greenish- brown pea looking things called lentils were being stored in our cupboard. Continue reading Dhal vs Lentils – Tastes of Faraway Lands

A Taste of Tamil Nadu Heaven in Tooting Broadway, London

Chutny n Dosa, a little South Indian eatery that I have recently found in the unusual sounding place of Tooting broadway, South London.

I love South Indian food, in fact it is one of the reasons I really miss living in India. I was introduced to South Indian  food  a few years ago  when I travelled to Kanyakumari, the very tip of India where the Indian ocean, the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal meet and have never looked back. The taste of various freshly made dosa, idly, wada, or uttapam with spicy chutney and sambhar is now for me a breakfast (or lunch) second to none. Along the way I visited various towns and villages such as Mangalore, Mysore, VijayanagaraHampi,  and Thiruvananthapuram, amongst others. All of theses places having their own specialties and providing their own slight differences to the standard fare of the south.

Nothing else tastes the same or can be compared. The simple food outlets have a only a few items on the menu, that when run out is over for the day. Larger places or those in the bigger metro cities usually have a more extensive array of food and variety, often including Indian/ Chinese dishes and non veg dishes.

I have never before had South Indian food that tastes quite the same outside of India. The sensation and flavour is never quite the same, the ambience  not there and the disappointment of not quite getting the taste I crave hangs around. That is until I found Tooting, well actually Dosa n Chutny in Tooting. The whole ambience is South India, the place is scrubbed clean , but the paint is ever so slightly peeling, the menu reads like 1000’s of other non veg South Indian restaurant menus and when the food arrives I am sent straight back to one of the unpronounceable villages in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka or Kerala.

My personal favourites at Dosa n Chutny, apart from the staple dosa and idli is the Chettinadu fish curry that has the lingering taste of Tamil Nadu  and is even more delicious when mopped up with a veechu parotha. The spicy prawn thokku with juicy prawns and a thick masala sauce is a taste sensation in itself, making my eyes water and prompting me to order another sweet lassi to cool my mouth before taking another bite.

There is of course a few Londonisms, the waiters all wear shoes, the tables are wiped with a popular antibacterial spay n wipe instead of soapy water , the water in the jug provided is safe enough to drink and the prices reflect the local economy, albeit excellent value for money.  The clientele on the few times I have been seems to be expat South Indian’s, maybe hankering for tastes of home and a good mix of people that come from all over the globe and make London the melting pot that it is.

I like this place, I have to travel a long way from North London to get there and to date have not been disappointed. Simple and delicious or simply delicious.


Photos from Dosa n Chutny website

Five Snapshots of India

Sadhu in Rajasthan
1 . This photo was taken on my birthday, 16 January 2011. At the time I was living in Delhi and for a birthday treat was taken to an old fort in Rajasthan. We were wandering around the local village where for a few rupees we were offered a ride on an old camel  drawn cart. We were taken away from the daily bustle of the small village into the hills and on up to a small hilltop Hindu temple where we were invited by these local men for chai and prasad (tea and sweet). These men were sitting smoking ganja, sipping chai and whileing  the time away chatting with the Sadhu’s.  Two women, one white and one NRI Indian was an unusual and welcome break in their day. 
Mathadi; Daily Wage Worker, Uttar Pradesh
2. Noida; the ever-growing city. Everyday in Noida, the city in Uttar Pradesh that knocks on the door of the affluent South Delhi suburbs grows a little. Brick by brick  the city is built entirely by hand by the thousands of workers from across UP and other poor states who come with their families and build makeshift huts alongside or within the buildings they are working on. Everyone works, everyone contributes to the daily wage living, building high rises, malls, shops, schools and parks they will never be allowed to use. Labour is cheap and plentiful so young and old, men and women with bare hands and the simplest of tools the city grows day by day. About 85% of India’s working population, around 400 million people are Mathadi’s or informal daily wage workers.
Boy in Mysore
Boy getting Tonsure in Mysore 
3. This photo was taken in Mysore, Karnataka near a Hindu Temple. He was getting his head shaved in preparation for a religious ceremony.
Daily wage woman in Uttar Pradesh
4. Another of the tens of thousands of labourers that are building the modern India each day. Approximately 120 million women are Mathadi or daily wage earners in rural India, most earning only half of what is paid to a man for the same job. This woman was cooking her family an early morning meal over a small fire using old tins instead of pots and sticks in lieu of cooking utensils. The meal each morning consisted of dry roti’s and a hot drink, probably chai. Behind her is the shack built from bricks and tin that her family sleep in whilst building the house, the foundations of which are starting on her right. Out of sight are the luxury bungalow houses already built and occupied on the rest of the street.
Paper DosaPaper Dosa; Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India.
5. Paper Dosa. I love South Indian breakfasts. Growing up with cereal and toast did not prepare me for the amazing taste and visual sensation that is breakfast in the southern states of India. Idli, vada, sambhar, uttapam or dosa along with various chutneys and steaming hot, freshly prepared south Indian coffee seem to be the mainstay among  the breakfast choices. This is a paper dosa, the largest and showiest version of the dosa, always attracting attention if ordered as if it is showing the culinary skills of the udipi’s dosa maker and large enough to indulge the family with the crisp rice loveliness of it all.