Whole Foods Market did it yet again! They took a risk and are now reaping the rewards. When Whole Foods Market first opened doors in Columbus Circle NYC , they launched with Indian food purveryor Café Spice and their ready to go meals and hot buffet. North Indian mainstays like chick pea curry and cream of spinach with paneer flew off the shelves. It is therefore of no surprise that when the prepared foods leadership of Whole Foods Market decided to do something exciting and off-the-beaten-track, they turned again to trusted partner Café Spice. Alas, The Dosateria was born.
Dosateria is a dosa and lassi bar within Whole Foods Market Tribeca, NYC. It was the brainchild of Café Spice’s Malhotra Family and corporate Chef Hari Nayak. Dosas are one of the most common street food snacks in South India, that somehow have been flying below the radar in the Western sphere. As thin as a nickle, dosas are a cross between crepes and wafers – the inside is soft whilst the outside is golden and crisp. Dosas are typically stuffed with vegetables or seafood and then rolled in to a flute-like shape and dunked into chutnies and salsas. Chef Hari, who is originally from Udupi – birthplace of the dosa, reminisced of his childhood as his mother spread a thin batter of dosa mixture and prepared a stuffing of a dry shrimp curry.
Seeing Hari’s face light up as he recounted his stories was no different to the expressions on patrons’ faces as they watched batter being poured and swirled in to perfect ovals in front of them. The customers’ next job is to decide whether to build their own dosas (choices include tofu masala, classic South Indian potatoes, pulled butter chicken, chili chicken meat balls and coconut shrimp) or select signature dosas with fun names (Jai Ho, All The Raj, Good Karma).
And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, they showed me the kids’ menu. I was a little skeptical at first, disbelieving that kids could handle that level of heat (don’t get me wrong, it’s mild to moderate on a spice scale, but it’s not exactly buttered pasta and chicken nuggets). But they were there, dragging their parents over to the counter and placing their orders. The only difference was in the cone shape versus the cylindrical version. They then rolled up their sleeves and dug right in, with their hands – the way you are supposed to.
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Lucky me got tastes of everything. They were all great and distinctly different, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a favorite. For me it was the classic potato stuffing. There was something that hit home in those potatoes in a ‘Southern comfort’ kind of way.
Don’t be intimidated by its good looks. I made this recipe and it is similar to making a pancake, only thinner. I certainly plan to make this over the holiday period to change themes up a tad. Why don’t you try it too.
1 cup medium-grain semolina (available at your local grocery stores)
½ cup rice flour (available at your local grocery store or specialty store)
3 tablespoons whole grain flour
½ cup buttermilk
1 to 1 ½ cups water, (use as needed)
Salt to taste
½ cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons grated coconut (optional)
2 fresh green chilies, minced
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons clarified butter or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of oil
1 pound potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 green chili, minced
A pinch of turmeric
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup clarified butter
1) In a medium bowl mix together the semolina, rice flour, flour, buttermilk, 1 cup of water, and salt and set aside until the semolina absorbs all the water. About 30 minutes.
2) Mix in the remaining ingredients and whisk for a few seconds, adding enough of the remaining water to make a thin batter of pouring consistency, (slightly thinner than a pancake batter). If the batter becomes too thin, mix in some rice flour
1) Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the mustard seeds, and let it pop. Add the onion and fry for 1 minute. Stir in the green chili, turmeric and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste and cool
1) Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the surface of the pan with oil. Stir the batter and pour a ladleful into the middle of the pan and quickly spread it out with the back of the ladle to form a thin pancake. Drizzle a little clarified butter around the edge to crisp up the pancake.
2) Cook until small holes appear on the surface and the edges start to brown. Turn around cook until brown (optional). Serve hot with a 2 ounce scoop of potato filling.
Saira Malhotra, is of British–Indian descent and is a chef, food writer and cooking instructor based in New York City. Raised in Hounslow, U.K, or rather ‘Little India’, where the air is aromatic with roasted spices, little did Saira know these moments would follow her from being a student in France and Italy to residing in NYC with her husband and kids and parlay themselves unexpectedly in to a culinary career. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in New York City. Come visit her at her food blog: www.passportpantry.com where she shares approachable and international recipes