Dosa Bar – a taste of South India

After you park around the corner, the aromas hit you as you emerge onto Arlosoroff Street, well before turning right to Ben-Yehuda Street.

April 26, 2019 17:30
2 minute read.
Dosa Bar – a taste of South India

Dosa Bar - a taste of South India. (photo credit: EYAL AVRAHAM LEVY)

Ah, India! The Taj Mahal, the cricket matches that last for days, the flower garlands, the cuisine.

Especially the cuisine. There are those who can’t stand it, and those who are passionate about it, with not much in between.

We belong to the latter category. We’ve been known to drive for two hours, both to the north and the south of Israel, for a good curry. When we heard about Dosa, an Indian vegan bar in Tel Aviv, it seemed just the thing for a pre-Passover night out.

After you park around the corner, the aromas hit you as you emerge onto Arlosoroff Street, well before turning right to Ben-Yehuda Street. A short stroll down the road and there it is, an unpretentious establishment with bare tables on the pavement and a few inside.

It takes its name from the staple of South Indian diet, the dosa, which is a sort of pancake somewhat reminiscent of what the Yemenites call melawah or the French crepe. The basic dosa dough is made from rice and lentils.

For starters we ordered a dosa with vegetables and three types of chutney. It arrived on a large silver tray and was full of chopped vegetables. It had a strong cumin flavor, although apparently an Indian spice called ajwain has a similar taste, so it could have been that plus several other spices I couldn’t identify.

We looked around at the other diners, and they all seemed to be eating their dosas with their hands, but we were happy to be given knives and forks.

We ordered Kingfisher Premium beer (NIS 22 for a third of a pint), and I also asked for my habitual Diet Sprite so I could take a half-cup of beer and make a shandy.

“We don’t have any,” said our waitress in impeccable English. “Only healthy things.”

The different chutneys that accompany the dosas are all very spicy and made of different vegetable combinations – tomato and carrot, haricot beans and sambar made with lentils and tamarind. They were not very sweet and a far cry from the chutney you can get in the supermarket.

The main courses are uttapams (NIS 34/58), which are made from the same dough as dosas but are fried, then rolled around a variety of fillings.

I chose mushroom uttapam, filled with portobello mushrooms, green and purple onion and spices. It was delicious and very filling (NIS 36).

The desserts being consumed at adjacent tables looked very tempting, so we succumbed to our waitress’s suggestion that we try all three.

Banoffee is made from caramel cream with coconut and banana; kulfi is cashew cream with cardamom; and finally there is a cashew/cocoa cream with almonds (NIS 32/34). All were slightly frozen and not too sweet.

We ended our very unusual supper with a hot ginger mint tea that was so pleasant to drink that no sugar or sweetener were needed.

All in all, a visit to Dosa is a healthy experience that will broaden your outlook (though not necessarily your waistline). Another distinct advantage is that you get a very satisfying meal without making too big a hole in your wallet.

Dosa Bar

188 Ben-Yehuda Street

Tel Aviv

Tel: (03) 659-1961

Open: Sun.-Thurs., 12 noon to 11 p.m.;

Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

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