Masala Dosa to Die For
May 8, 2014 1:03 PM   Subscribe

omg I remember the first time a guy in the kitchen made dhosa for all of us. SO DAMN GOOD.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:22 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]

I've been to the Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale, the food was great but this line hit home for me:
"If you don’t know what a dosa is or how to eat it, you’re on your own."
There is no English anywhere on the menu. This makes for a very interesting meal if you're in the mood to explore. The problem I have is, since I don't eat there regularly, I forget what I liked from one time to the next, but in general, dosas are pretty darn good, so it's not much of a problem.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:37 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]

My sister lives near one of the Manhattan locations so I have been there a few times, and the food is quite excellent. I wonder if this will affect my decision the next time I am in the area!
posted by rosswald at 1:38 PM on May 8

I don't eat at Chic-Fil-A or watch Roman Polanski movies. I love Indian food but I'm going to take a pass on eating at this guy's establishments.
posted by kmz at 1:46 PM on May 8 [4 favorites]

As shocking as this in, bear in mind dosa is damn tasty.
posted by ocschwar at 1:49 PM on May 8

We recently went to a Saravana Bhavan in India, and interestingly it was way more Indian. (Actually, that is a completely uninteresting fact. Regardless.) The thing is they fill the exact same market space there as they do here, Mid-market, cleanish, while not being obsessive, cheap enough that almost anyone can eat there. I think lunch for four with Cokes, (the most expensive thing on the menu,) and "special" yogurt that wasn't particularly special came to less than four bucks. Not the cheapest place in India, but not expensive either.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:51 PM on May 8

Chik-Fil-A Dosa would be the best, most hateful food ever.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:51 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]

"There was a young girl from DoSA, who helped herself to a samosa. "
posted by symbioid at 1:58 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]

That was filled with pork
And slid off her fork
Leaving her to cry "Oh! dolorosa!"

(yes my Spanish sucks)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:07 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]

I've been to Saravana Bhavan in Sunnyvale and India. Both are akin to holy experiences. Interestingly, the Sunnyvale location is 10 minutes from my work yet my coworkers (some of whom are foodies) don't even know it exists. It certainly has no atmosphere or exterior ambience or whatever, but the food, man, the food.
posted by naju at 2:14 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]

I don't think a murder story has ever left me so hungry before, but the thing that really interested me were his labor practices. Is it really that hard to attract people to food service jobs in India? Really interesting.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:20 PM on May 8

(Darn I was going to post this.)

I developed an appreciation for proper South Indian food in 4 years as an undergrad in Madras, and it frustrates me no end that it is so hard to find outside the country. It is very different from the standard Indian fare in US restaurants, and astonishingly tasty.

The story, though - what a story. This is like the setup for a really bad Bollywood movie:

Rajagopal — possibly on the advice of his astrologer — became determined to marry Jeevajothi, the young daughter of one of his assistant managers. That would have made her Rajagopal’s third simultaneous wife ... Jeevajothi [...] was in love with her brother’s math tutor, Santhakumar. In 1999, Jeevajothi and Santhakumar eloped, but Rajagopal’s fixation persisted.

And then kidnapping, murder, arrest, trial, conviction, release, a restaurant empire that grows while he goes in and out of jail - the only thing missing is the twist with the identical but long-lost twin. If you've seen more than three Bollywood movies, you know what I'm talking about.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:48 PM on May 8 [2 favorites]

RedOrGreen, c'mon over to Toronto. In my east side neighbourhood alone there's several kick-ass Chettinad and Keralan establishments. You want string hoppers? iddli? sambar? kotthu rotti? Fresh parotta, puffy like clouds? My 'hood, stat.

If you've never had South Indian food, I liken the complexity of flavours to the most delicate carvings on the handle of a sledgehammer.
posted by scruss at 3:20 PM on May 8 [3 favorites]

I haven't been to Little India in a looooooooooooooong ass time. I should save my pennies and go gorge.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:32 PM on May 8

I've been to the Saravana Bhavan in Fremont. It was okay, but there are a lot better Indian restaurants even within a few miles, and tastier dosas.
posted by tavella at 4:36 PM on May 8

Great article! I love dosas. I still haven't had any South Indian food in NYC as good as Madras Masala in Toronto, specifically their Hyderabadi "dum" biryani.

I've yet to try Saravana (though strangely, reading the article made me really want to try it) but Anjapar Chettinad is right across the street from them and does a good dosa.
posted by pravit at 4:39 PM on May 8

I've been to the Saravana Bhavan in Fremont. It was okay, but there are a lot better Indian restaurants even within a few miles, and tastier dosas.

Yes. Just like McDonalds. A lot better burger places even within a few miles, and tastier fries.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:47 PM on May 8

I used to work down the street from the Saravana Bhavan in Mississauga and have been many times. Decent food and good service. Now I know the rest of the story.
posted by samhyland at 3:57 AM on May 9

The article is strangely constructed. It reads like a puff piece on Rajagopal, adds "by the way, he killed somebody and got away with it" as almost an afterthought, but makes that the lede. I found the whole experience of reading it somehow distasteful.
posted by incster at 8:28 AM on May 9

I think the guy was supposed to write a light piece about evolution of this masala dosa franchise, probably a puff piece. But when he came to know more about Rajagopal and the history, he wasn't able to decide how to frame the article keeping this in mind.

And the result is this mishmash.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 5:28 AM on May 11

I was talking to my Fremont friends about Saravana Bhavan, and they reminded me of something: it had the worst white rice ever. Weird utterly tasteless stuff with a texture like Minute Rice. "Not even *good* white person rice" was how my friend put it. I don't know if this is a franchise-wide thing.
posted by tavella at 8:27 AM on May 11

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