Dosas are the crepes of the Indian world. Dosas originate from Southern India (places like Tamil Nadu and Kerala) but are also popular in Sri Lanka and Singapore. Dosas are generally gluten free, made from ground lentils or rice (however, wheat dosas are also available) and are served with an array of colourful chutneys in tiny silver bowls.
I had the opportunity to visit Udupi Madras Cafe in the heart of Mississauga that serves an impressive list of South Indian dishes (all vegetarian friendly). We went on a Saturday for lunch and Udupi wasn’t too packed but people were streaming in and out frequently. Bollywood tunes played over the sound system, sometimes too loud that I could not hear my fellow diners but I think someone in management realized this and turned down the volume.
We were a large group of 11 adults and 5 children but the menu had enough options to impress all palates.
The children ordered a mini pizza Utthapum from the Kids Corner menu. The picture is evidence of how quickly it was chomped down on. The dough was soft and the sprinkled spices with toppings of bell pepper, onion, and tomato ensconced between melted cheese was a delicious combination. My first reaction was, “this is like a really desi pizza.”
For appetizers, we ordered the Bombay platter, which consists of famous starter treats like Bhel Puri, a combination of rice puffs, vegetables, and chutney, along with a medley of Dahi bataata, a round disc stuffed with chickpeas, yogurt, fresh cilantro, and other spices. I wasn’t too impressed with the platter because I felt like these dishes are something I can easily whip up at home with a short trip to an Indian grocery store — in short, there was nothing spectacular about the platter.
For another appetizer, we couldn’t go without the quintessential Indian street food: Pani Puri. In Udupi’s case, that’s exactly where Pani puri should be left — to the street vendors. The pani puri consisted of round wheat discs, a side of spicy potatoes and peas, and a bowl of spiced water. The best part about Pani puri: eating it! The puri is eaten by cracking a hole in the disc shell, filling in some potato mix, and scooping in water, all the while balancing it towards your mouth. Dribbling is a must. Once again, the Udupi Pani puri was nothing exceptional. The shells, I am sure, were not freshly made in store but the boxed ones you can buy from many grocery stores. Authentic puri is all handmade and homemade (or should I say streetmade?).
The highlight of Udupi was the dosas! I think the only reason I’ll visit Udupi next time is for the dosas. All the adults ordered an array of dosa plates that ranged from mild to extra spicy. My favorite dosa plate was the Mysore Masala stuffed sandwich dosa. Easy to eat and wonderfully light but filling. The spicy level on this is pretty high if your spice threshold is low (duh!). The dosa contained a spicy potato mix, mysore chutney, and a burst of Indian spices.
Most of the other adults ordered a variation of the masala dosa (potato spice mixture) with cheese filling or extra chillies. The chutney’s on the side, especially the white coconut chutney, were delicious! It’s all round fun eating dosas because its messy but the melange of spices (red chillies, turmeric, coriander powder), soft potatoes, cheese, and coconut chutney with flecks of black seeds transport you to a different place and you almost forget, for a second, that you’re sitting in Mississauga.
Masala cheese dosa
I think our party was too full in the end but we still marched forward to order dessert, which most of shared amongst ourselves. The first was a bowl of warm gulab jamun, floating in a sea of golden rose syrup. Gulab jamuns are too sweet for my tastebuds because its nary but sugar though I could not do without a bite.
The second order was a falooda with kulfi,
which is a milky drink mixed with rose syrup, tukh malanga (basil seeds), and thick creamy ice cream. Sweet but refreshing on a hot summers day.
Get yourself to Udupi if you want to experience some fantastic and fresh South Indian cuisine. Try the appetizers if you’ve never had pani puri or a plate of bhel puri but do not, absolutely, do not miss out on the dosas. Crispy, light, flavourful, spicy, and aromatic, you will be left delighted with some of the tastes India has to offer.
Overall rating: 4.0/5
Udupi Madras Cafe
265 Enfield Pl
ON L5B 3Y7