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Masala Dosa from Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen

A masala dosa, sambar, and a rainbow of chutney.
A masala dosa, sambar, and a rainbow of chutney.
Ando Muneno

​Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburban-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.

This Week: Masala Dosa from Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen

The Basics:Imagine an unsweetened crepe pan-fried crispy on one side and left chewy on the other. Now fill this hypothetical savory crepe with a spicy potato mixture similar to what is found inside of a samosa. Now imagine that savory crepe about three times larger than any crepe you have ever seen.

That's a masala dosa. A crunchy, chewy crepe made from a rice and lentil batter and filled with a spicy potato mixtures. It's served with a spicy vegetable soup called sambar and wide array of chutneys and spicy relishes called "pickle." Eating it is simple. Tear off a piece of hot dosa and dip it in your condiment of choice. While Woodlands has an entire chutney bar to sample, their dosa is served with a tangy tomato and rich but refreshing coconut chutney.

Like a crepe, dosa can host a wide variety of fillings. If you're looking for something a little less filling, try a simple cheese dosa. If you're looking for something spectacular try the massive and exquisitely thin paper dosa.

Tiny delicious pancakes...Woodlands owners fill us in on the dosa experience after the jump.

Woodlands' Dosa: Owner Prashant Sheregar and his wife Sandhya have been running the restaurant for several years now. Prashant learned dosa making from his brothers when he first moved to the US. "We'll eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner," he says, explaining that dosa is one of the most popular foods in South India. Unlike the street food chaat, dosa is generally served in restaurants for communal eating.

Prashant says that process of making dosa isn't really hard but he wife insisted that it was a bit of an "art." She explains that the batter must be spread thinly to cook properly but not so thinly that it leaves holes. This is a notoriously finicky process which is why it was one of the first things Prashant learned to make. Prashant really did make it look easy as he deftly formed each dosa with a single flourish of his measuring bowl.

Woodlands is truly exceptional because they make their chutney fresh and offer it to customers as you would see at a salsa bar at a Mexican restaurant. The tomato chutney is perfect on the dosa but be warned: South Indian food is (in)famous for its spice and the flavors are so vibrant that it's easy to overdo it with the chutney and pickle. As in all things, know your limits.

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