After the meat-veg-cheese-chocolate-repeat of Christmas, Matt and I were desperate for something spicy and different when we got back to our house in Tooting.
Having only lived here for three months we’ve got a huge list of places we want to visit and I think we possibly decided as early as Christmas Day that Dosa n Chutny was at the top of it.
It is a bright, colourful restaurant which is always packed out – much like a lot of the restaurants here – but we had heard it was something special.
The beauty of Tooting is the range of Indian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan food on offer. You can never get bored and there’s always a new dish to try.
Dosa n Chutny specialises in the food of Chennai which is the capital of India’s eastern state of Tamil Nadu.
We visited the restaurant early on a freezing cold night. It was barely 7pm but there were already tables full of people enjoying mountains of food.
The layout is like a canteen with close-together tables, plastic chairs, mirrors and bright lighting but diners don’t go here to enjoy a meal in sumptuous surroundings and comfort.
We had no idea what to order and the menu is very extensive.
Given the restaurant has ‘dosa’ in its name, one of our choices was already made!
We opted for the Manchurian cauliflower as a starter and two sambar vada which are lentil doughnuts in a lentil sauce with onion and coriander.
I have never tasted anything like the cauliflower before. I know people are becoming more and more inventive with this vegetable these days but this was beyond anything I have ever experimented with.
The florets were crispy and crunchy and full of spice. The chillis and onion were accompanied them gave the dish some real fire, yet because they were Oriental in style too, there was an element of sweetness to them.
I couldn’t stop eating it.
The sambar vada did pale in comparison to be honest. Again, I had never tried this dish and had no idea what to expect. It was very stodgy, like a sweet doughnut, but they were very absorbent and the lentil sauce was delicious.
This was all quite heavy and we were worried we may have over ordered as we already felt slightly stuffed.
Luckily, unlike some other places we’ve tried in Tooting, we were given a good amount of time to have a breather before our main courses.
As we waited, we could see that the restaurant had totally filled up and a queue was forming of patient, dedicated fans by the door.
We ordered a masala dosa, the Hyderabad lamb bhuna ghost and a dhal curry.
The dosa came with three types of chutney and sambar and was thin, crispy and the potatoes and onion inside soft and spicy.
The dhal was delicious but a bit too smooth and thin for my liking. I like my dhal’s a bit thicker with the bite of the lentils retained.
Lamb in curries can sometimes be a bit chewy but this was tender and meaty. The sauce had a real kick to it thanks to the ginger and large red chillies which we chose to set aside on this occasion – our mouth-cooling mango lassies were running out!
Despite gorging ourselves after Christmas, we managed to polish the perfectly-sized portions all off.
The staff were run off their feet but still friendly and attentive. They didn’t try to hurry us along, despite the growing crowds of hungry people.
We were in and out in just over an hour, so there was no holding hands over the table or lingering looks but the walk home was a welcome opportunity to let the food go down.
It wasn’t the cheapest of Tooting curries we’ve had but at under £30 we know we’ll be back time and again – if they can squeeze us in!