In the past, every time I wanted Indian food I would go to the buffet–after all, there’s no shortage of Indian buffets in Buffalo. But that was before a friend introduced me to Dosa Place, unassumingly tucked into University Plaza on Main St. across from UB’s south campus.
I was intrigued by what I found there: a few new and different (to me) takes on some of my favorite Indian dishes, as well as some things I had never seen or tasted before.
Like the dosas. Before my Dosa Place experience, I knew dosas as the pile of mushy, thin-cut layers of overly-dry pancake and potato that I mostly pass over at the buffet. By comparison, these dosas are glorious: big fresh, folded pancakes served hot on an overflowing platter, served with chutneys and stuffed with any number of delicious combinations.
The cheese and masala dosa is a great example. Both the cheese and the masala are good quality, and importantly neither overpowers the pancake, which, made from fermented dough and cooked to a perfected crisp, is the best part of the dish. Add a couple of fresh chutneys and you too will soon be reconsidering the humble dosa.
No doubt about it: Dosa Place does Indian food differently. The difference may be that this is south Indian cuisine; there’s more of an emphasis on vegetarian dishes (all the of the dishes at Dosa Place are vegetarian; many are vegan and jain), emphasizing to an even greater degree the savory, sour and spicy flavors of curries and pickles featuring chilies, coconut, tamarind and other produce from the subcontinent.
Whatever the reason, Dosa Place’s different approach is what allows it to stand out–even when they’re serving up some of your favorites from the buffet.
You can still get your usual paneer tikka masala with a mango lassi and side of pakoda–but when you do, pay attention to the how the curry seems almost rustic compared to what you’re used to; less of a homogenous puree with more big chunks of stewed or sauteed tomatoes, peppers and onions.
The pakoda, to my taste, was just right: thin slices of onion, crispy but not overcooked, served with a few different sauces and chutneys. One of the chutneys in particular is a really delightful take on the recognizable coconut with fried red chilies, resulting in a dusky color and a rich, savory sauce you’ll eventually want to try with everything you order.
That’s the key to the Dosa Place experience: be willing to mix and match options until you find the right flavor and texture combinations for you. Both the food and the presentation–each component of the Special Thali is served in its own small ramekin–lend itself to this type of exploration. And once you realize how good the yellow dal is with the fermented sour pickle, then you’ll rediscover the joy a trying a little of everything.