Saturday, 21 March 2009
Chennai Dosa, 353 High Street North, Manor Park, E12 6PQ (East Ham tube station)
As you come out of East Ham station, there are 3 Chennai Dosa restaurants (similar sign boards, similar name, similar colours in fact) on the high street. Which one you go to depends on who recommended it to you.
The one we went to was the third one down from East Ham tube station, after the second vegetarian one with the long queues. As we went by the queues, I wondered if that meant we were going to the less popular one, but my friend then said that the queues were for the vegetarian restaurant, so I guess you can’t compare the two.
Less queues = faster service
For those of you who don’t know, there is a big difference in the type of food served in Northern and Southern Indian cuisine. I’m not exactly sure what the main differentiating factor is, but from what I’ve had, Northern Indian cuisine consists of chapatis, fried meats and vegetables, and curries, while Southern Indian food is mainly dosa (or thosai depending on where you come from) and idli, with the Southern version of the cuisine being based more on steamed and roasted items.
Being the non-choosy kinda people, we like all of it.
The ground floor of the restaurant looks pretty much like any other takeaway shop with bright lights, a few tables for diners, and a counter where orders are placed. We went to the first floor, which had some more tables but was set up to create a comfortable (although simple in decor) environment for their diners, which seemed to be mostly larger groups of people. Where the cool kids hang out.
The menu is here another one which I like, consisting of a piece of paper, printed on both sides with little boxes for you to write the quantities on. As the prices were very reasonable, the four of us decided to order more than what the usual equation would have required us to. This time, the formula we used was:
n + 3 (instead of n + 1), with n being the number of diners
Mini idli with sambhar £2.20
The first dish to arrive at the table, and spoons delved into the dish almost immediately. Oohs and aahs and oh this is nice.
Little idlis (steamed rice cakes, soft and slightly chewy with a sour after taste) swimming in sambar sauce which tasted similar to dhal (chickpea curry).
Chicken kotthu parotta £3.75
Parotta is different from paratha, as the latter is Northern Indian (this is what Wikipedia says anyway). Thing is, unless I’ve had parathas disguised as parottas, or vice-versa, I can’t really see the difference between the two types of rotis.
This dish consists of parotta (closest thing I can liken it to is flakey puff pastry, but chewy) cut into little pieces, and cooked with egg, chicken and a spicy sauce.
As I was eating this, I tried to see what was in the dish but couldn’t make out what was in it, although onions was one of the main ingredients, from what I could tell. Taste-wise, it was very flavourful and eggy, and each bite made me want more. Similar to fried noodles (?), definitely one on the repeat-order list.
Mango lassi £1.75 (sweet)
Creamy and thick with full flavours of mango bursting through with each sip, soothing the spiciness of the dish mentioned above.
This is probably as close as it gets to eating dessert while having your main meal. Some people turn up their noses at that, but I say, the more the merrier.
Kal Dosa with Special Chicken Masala £3.75
The chicken masala curry that came with this dish was one of the nicest I’ve had. Tender, flavoured with spices and with just enough heat coming through the dish, it managed to stand out as the super-star of the dinner, fighting for space with the other super-stars (there were quite a few).
The dosa (or thosai) was nicely chewy, going well with the sauce.
Super-star chicken deserves a closer look.
Parotta £0.80 a piece
This is so similar to the roti parathas I’ve had before, that I really wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference if I hadn’t known there was any. Chewy like dense puff pastry, flavoured with eggs and ghee, this made a fabulous side-bread to chew on, even without being dipped in any curry.
Mutton masala dosa £3.99
When it arrived, I took one look at it and assumed that it would be like the chicken masala one, with the curry on the side. My friend then had a little prod at the dosa and revealed …
A treasure trove of potato with onions, and lots of mutton, very flavourful mutton. Each mouthful had little applauds of spice, rich meaty flavour, and fluffy potatoes cooked to perfection.
Special of the day – Nethili fish fry £2.75
When we were shown to our tables, we saw bright posters on the wall with the specials of the day. The one that just had to be ordered was the Nethili fish fry as I had been wanting fish the whole day, so even though I had not a clue what Nethili was (or where), I just had to order it.
It’s pretty much little fish deep marinated in spices and deep fried. Although only little, they managed to retain moisture and flavour, and the cooking process made each one very crispy and sweet.
Mutton Dum Biriyani £3.95
With more mutton than rice, this was our kind of dish. The rice and mutton was tender, yet not over-cooked, and nicely coated with spices.
Fluffy rice, tender mutton, creamy yoghurty minty sauce and 3 other diners who were already full meant that I had it all to myself.
Would I return to this restaurant? Most definitely so. In fact, halfway during the meal, we wanted to order some dishes to take-away, that’s how good it was.
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