Saturday, 16 March 2013

Chennai Dosa, Wembley

Chennai Dosa on Urbanspoon
529 High Road,

Special Masala Dosa: £2.99
Sambar Idli: £1.99
Masala Butter Paneer: £3.50
Chapattis: 85p apiece

Being such a fan of East Ham's plethora of South Indian restaurants and shops, I had wanted to check out for some time what Wembley, a similar area but in north-west London, had to offer.  It was a flying visit, but I will return in the future for more sampling.

Chennai Dosa is a small chain (11 outlets) of South Indian restaurants scattered mostly across the South East.  R and I went there because it was right by the bus stop, we were starving, and I had eaten an excellent meal at the one in East Ham before.  The menu is comprehensive and has a good selection of South Indian standards (dosas, oothapams, idlis etc) with a few options for each dish.

R and I chose sambar idli (steamed rice cakes in a thin vegetable curry), masala butter paneer (paneer cheese in a sauce), chapattis, and the special masala dosa.  We ordered the special masala dosa mainly because it was only 14p more than the normal masala dosa, and we wanted to see what special ingredient cost 14p.

The sambar idli was superb: the two dense rice cakes soaked up the sambar but retained their shape, and the large chunks of vegetables in the sambar made it seem healthier than it probably was.  The masala butter paneer was rich and flavoursome, pungent with a tomato acidity complemented by the creamy paneer.  We ate it with nothing-special chapattis rather than rice. The special masala dosa came as a large semi-circle with the usual complement of sauces - sambar, a cooling but spiced coconut, a red one that tasted of caramelised onions and a green one that tasted clean, peppery and hot.  The magic 14p ingredient was a heavily cinnamon-ed mashed medley of vegetables plonked on top of the curried potatoes and onions.  It did not add anything to the dosa and the heavy flavour of cinnamon compromised the other spicing in the dish.

Overall, the meal was good, although some aspects could be improved.  Eating South Indian is almost always a cheap but tasty option, and we were stuffed for the princely sum of a tenner. Wembley has a lot more to offer, including outdoor dosa stands that were deserted in this March's biting winds and snow flurries.  There will be more food forays into the northwest of the capital once the weather improves.

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