Dosa….Revisiting Southern India’s Flavors

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to have spent some time in Southern India—Chennai to be exact. And in my days there, I took every opportunity to indulge in the colorful flavors of the cuisine. From street vendors, to food courts, to banquets and most importantly–the dishes prepared by our host family….I sampled everything I could get my hands on. More acquainted with Northern Indian and Punjabi cuisine, I was delighted in the discovery of what the Southern states of India had to offer.

Since I have been back, I had been hard pressed to find a restaurant that featured Southern Indian cuisine—that is, until my sister took us out to Dosa in the Pac Heights district in San Francisco. A somewhat “upscaled-urban” version of their other location in the Mission district, Dosa on Fillmore fuses modern chic décor with ornate Indian influenced pieces. The beautiful dark woods mixed with warm golden hues around the two-story restaurant are absolutely striking. And of course, let’s not forget to mention their long and swanky bar featuring specialty cocktails from mixologist, Jonny Raglin, of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar and Nopa.

Restaurant View from 2nd Floor

Statue of Shiva as Nataraja

Once seated and greeted, we were given delicious Papadam (lentil chips), which I happily munched on while my sister ordered for us. For our party of four, we settled on a family style selection of the Channa Bhatura, Spicy Mung Masala Dosa, Chicken & Eggplant ‘Baingan Bharta’, and the Kerala Fish Moilee.

I will try to describe the wonderful flavors as they danced around on my palette but how about I do it some justice first by showing a few pictures?

Papadam: Thin, crispy chips

Channa Bhatura: Chickpea masala with large, soft, puffy wheat bread

Spicy Mung Masala Dosa: Mung lentil dosa with green chiles, chopped onions, cilantro and spiced potatoes

Kerala Fish Moilee: Sustainably-caught halibut, coconut sauce, coriander, cumin, mustard seed & chiles

Chicken & Eggplant ‘Baingan Bharta: Organic boneless chicken with roasted & pureed eggplant, peas

First, let’s talk about how amazingly delicious and fun the Channa Bhatura was. Perfectly seasoned and tender chickpeas that are scooped up with pieces of lightly fried and puffy wheat bread (bhatura). And the most fun thing? The Bhatura comes served like a balloon ready to be punctured and used as a utensil. DEE-LISH and ENTERTAINING? that’s a Nguyen-Win Situation to me 🙂

The Spicy Mung Masala Dosa brought back many memories for me as I constantly ordered Dosas in Chennai. This particular dosa was not only stuffed with mung beans but also with potatoes and cilantro–quite possibly two of my favorite things. All Dosas here are served with three types of “dipping sauces”: coconut chutney, tomato chutney and sambar. As a Condiment Monster, this was also a Nguyen-Win Situation for me 🙂

Our two main entrees were also scrumptious–though I did prefer the aforementioned two items. The Kerala Halibut Moilee was extremely tender, moist and paired so well with the velvety coconut sauce. The Baingan Bharta was indeed succulent and earthy.

And although we were way too stuffed for any dessert (shocking, I know), we did indulge in a few cocktails. 🙂

Specialty Cocktails (Top Left to right): Batsman, Bollywood Hills, and Emerald Sound

Our dining experience was extremely enjoyable and I would HIGHLY recommend Dosa on Fillmore to anyone interested in Indian cuisine. True, although many dishes have been slightly modified from their original state to compliment San Francisco, you will be hard pressed to find a spot that serves such high quality, South Indian inspired cuisine. *Big Kudos to proprietors Emily and Anjan Mitra for being “the only Indian restaurant in the Bay Area that has a holistic commitment to primarily organic, bio-dynamic and sustainable ingredients and products.

Dosa on Fillmore
1700 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 441-3672

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