Dosa Centre: Tamil tiffin at Mumbai's Bandra E

Gomati and Pandyan and Amma of Dosa Centre
 
 
There is a small dosa stall called Dosa Centre opposite the Guru Nanak Hospital at Bandra East.
 
It is run by a husband and wife couple, Pandyan and Gomati, who came from Kovilpatti in Tamil Nadu to Mumbai about 22 years back.
 
They set up the stall 12 years back.
 
I have been to the stall a few times. I love the freshly fried medu vadas and freshly steamed idlis that they serve. In the afternoon you get dosas. These dosas are chubbier in texture compared to what you get in restaurants in Mumbai. You get the dosas between 1 to 3 pm. Medu vadas and idlis from 8 am to 1 pm. They wake up at 4 am to prep for the day.
 
soft dosas
 
 
I was down there today and had a plate of idli and vada (Rs 20 for 4 pieces). Gomati was making fresh sambar on a kadai (wok) and served that on to my plate. You can see this video to see her making dosas.
 
Idli vada, if you want they douse it with sambar or chutney
 
 
This sambar, unlike what we are used to in the Udipi restaurants in Mumbai, was not sweet!
 
Gomati told me that unlike people from Karnataka, she uses tomato as a souring agent and not tamarind. No sugar goes into it. She uses red chillies, moong daal, pumpkin and sambar powder. The sambar was soulful and flavour packed and I continued to sip it after my idlis were over.
 
Gomati's Tamilian sambar
 
 
What makes the food unique here is that the stall is run by Tamilians. They even have a calendar with a picture of Amma (Jayalalita).
 
When I came to Mumbai years back I was surprised by the number of dosa joints here. I had just come in from Kolkata, where we had grown up to the 80s to the politically incorrect notion that all South Indians are 'Madrasis' who only eat idli dosa.
 
Mumbai taught me about the diversity of South Indians as I made friends with people from different South Indian states. My first and only room mate was from Andhra. I was also introduced to the Mangalorean fish gassis and Keralite beef fry and porota and heard my Tamil friends rhapsodize about thayir sadam (curd rice) and realized that there is more to South Indian food than idli dosa and vada.

And Madras became Chennai.
 
I also learnt that most South Indian vegetarian joints in Mumbai are run by Mangaloreans from Udipi and that the style of cooking there is different from that of other South Indian states. That there can be variations in dosas and idlis depending on the state they originate in and in the sabar too.

 To top it, most of these Udipi restaurants, except the older joints in South Mumbai and Matunga (a South Indian dominated locality in Mumbai), offer a bastardised version of South Indian food to appeal to local, non- South Indian, palates.
 
This explains the Schezwan and pav bhaji dosas and the confounded, sweet, chutney like sambar that you get here.
 
 
Pandya and Gomati's stall is open through the day and they shut at 4 pm so go during the day if you want to try Tamil tiffin dishes. It's a pretty humble place and there is an open cover of a drain in front so it is not for squeamish. The food is pretty tasty though and cooked in front of you, and served piping hot, which is a good thing.
 
This Tamil run stall is in the Maharashtrian dominated area of Kalanagar where the Tahackerays live. Those who follow the politics of the state will get the irony. I will stay away from it here. I have no desire to be inked!
 
Kalanagar has some good food options if you take the Kambles and their pohe, Sri Krishna Vada pav and the mutton masala at Sadicha but it's fairly unsung as a food hot spot of Mumbai.
 
That's the beauty of the city. You will get good food everywhere.
 
You just have to seek it out.
 
 
 

An animated and enlightening discussion on Facebook followed on sambhar after I posted the picture which I am sharing below:


 

 
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