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Kerala Stew- Dosa Style

September 23, 2008

A few weeks ago, we went to Dosa, located in the Mission district in San Francisco. Dosa is a south indian restaurant with a difference: the ambience is unlike any other Indian restaurant you’ve ever been to. The interiors are modern with red and pale yellow walls. When you enter the restaurant, you see a dancing- Shiva’s statue to the right, near the bar. As you turn your eyes towards the back of the restaurant the mellow lighting and the red and yellow walls greet you. The restaurant is always bustling and full of people. Its walk-in and reservations are allowed only for parties more than 5 people. The first time we went to Dosa, we had a 15 minute wait but we could put down our name and leave our mobile number and take a walk. The second time we went there was on a weekday and were promptly seated. Food on both occasions was great- authentic, with the exact amount of spices that I would expect if it were made at home (we south indians are very proud of our sambars!). 

While the name of the restaurant indicates it serves Dosa ( a crepe made with rice and lentil), the menu has an eclectic selection of dishes from most of south india- Andhra Pradesh is represented by Spicy Mung Masala, Kerala is represented by a soup, a chicken dish, while most other dishes are from Tamil Nadu, including a myriad of dosas, idli, vada etc. 

I ordered Kerala Cauliflower Soup and Adai on my second trip. I was expecting the Kerala-style Ishtew (a stew made with potatoes, and other vegetables simmered in a mildly spiced coconut milk broth) which is traditionally served with idiappam or thin rice-noodles. The soup was similar, but spicier. The cauliflower and bell peppers were perfectly cooked with a crunch to them and the coconut milk broth was spiced so you would feel a tad bit of heat from the chiles. My adai was rolled with a vegetable filling and served with three spicy chutneys (one of them I distinctly remember had habanero in it as the staff and the owner specifically warned me that it was spicy)- it was, but not so spicy that a toungue used to Indian flavors cannot handle it. My mother-in-law ordered the beet soup which was mildly spiced with cumin powder, served with a little bit of creme fraiche- a very simple recipe with the flavors blended beautifully. And, look how beautiful it looked!

Dosa is the best south indian restaurant I’ve eaten at in the US- its modern, welcoming ambience and its unique blend of authentic south indian dishes served with a modern twist set it apart from the other Indian restaurants. If you live in the Bay Area, check it out the next time you’re in the City. If you’re visiting Bay Area, make Dosa a dinner destination!

I loved the Kerala-style soup so much that I re-created it:

What you need

  • 2 Cups chopped cauliflower florets
  • 1 Cup frozen edamame
  • 1 Cup carrot
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 1/2 Tsp of cooking oil
  • 1 Tsp cumin powder
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric
  • 1-2 Green Thai chiles (or 1/2 a jalapeno pepper)
  • 1/2 a can of coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp of chopped cilantro
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed

How its done

  1. Chop the carrots into cubes  (I used frozen parisienne carrots- they’re small carrot rounds).
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Heat the oil in a sauce pan and add the onions. Saute till translucent.
  4. While the onion is cooking, microwave the cauliflower and carrots with a little bit of water and salt to partially cook it (3 minutes).
  5. When the onion is translucent, crush the ginger with a ginger press and add to the onions. Saute for a minute
  6. Slit the green chiles and add to the mix and saute for a minute. Add the cumin and turmeric and mix.
  7. Add the partially cooked cauliflower and carrots, the coconut milk and salt to taste and let the mixture come to a boil. Add water to thin, as you think necessary.
  8. Add the frozen edamame at this point
  9. Simmer for 5-7 minutes to allow the spices and vegetables to commingle.
  10. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve!
I served the stew with a whole wheat cous-cous salad with sprouted mung and red cabbage. This made for a healthy and hearty lunch!
  1. Sounds like a good restaurant to visit…how sad that when I was there I did not know about it…the description of your stew sounds mouthwatering….and the beet soup looks so pretty 🙂

  2. Yes, we’ve been to Dosa before and enjoyed the flavors. Unfortunately, I think the postions are too small for the amount they charge and when we go there on weekends, the wait is endless. So, we go over to Herbivore next door):

  3. I have always loved Kerala-style stew – will definitely give this a try.

  4. Next time I’m in San Francisco, I shall make Dosa my mission! 🙂 Wish I’d known about it the last time I was there.

  5. TT, will try Dosa on my next visit,soups seems very hearty

  6. parijat permalink

    wow! the reading made my stomach roar!!
    very well written.
    Didnt know u were so good at writing and were fond of food ( fud as pronounced in karnataka), your physical appearance doesnt betray the taste buds. Luck you.

  7. Rekha permalink

    Looks quite yummy

  8. Thaths permalink

    Thanks for the tip. I am going to check this place out next time I am in the city.

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