Something humble about the slightly bland vegetable-prone dosa makes it very comforting
Imagine a giant folded pancake with a spiced potato curry embedded in its centre and fundamentally, that is dosa. DosaXpress restaurant is easily found in the centre of Withington, and is helpfully signposted with perpetually flashing Christmas lights lining the window.
Upon arriving at the establishment, we were seated immediately (most people get takeaway) and couldn’t help but note the continued theme of internal flashing lights now also combined with some sort of epileptic swirling disco.
We navigated the menu with a general sense of confusion – Southern Indian dishes like medhu vada, chilli fried idli and the eponymous dosa were so new to us we didn’t know how to tackle portion size, and couldn’t always find a description. We learnt that one dosa per person, with a shared starter, was plenty enough for one.
Dosa are made from fermented ground rice and ground urid dal. The fermented element gives it a slight vinegary kick, and the same goes for idli, which is a steamed rice cake. To start, we shared medhu vada, which is a ‘deep-fried savoury doughnut with onion, green chilli and pepper,’ an accurate description, served with the restaurant’s trademark – four mystery sauces. The first mystery sauce was green, we think it had pea in it; the second was white, sweet coconut; the third an orange elusively-flavoured; the fourth a standard fish and chip shop curry.
Three of our dosas were almost identical in appearance and flavour, a vegetable-based thick orange curry, that tasted perfectly good. The fourth was a mutton dosa, and the addition of slow-cooked meat was certainly a bonus – find it under the small section labelled non-veg dosas. The meals were served on school dinner-type trays with sections allotted for each part of the dish, which I thought was a nice touch, though maybe a bit patronising.
The absence of a pool of oil drenching our food was welcome, as is so often the case with an Indian takeaway. The deals were very cheap, about £5 per person for a meal with 10% student discount, and delivery is free under five miles. There is something humble about the slightly bland vegetable-prone dosa that makes it very comforting. I recommend the experience fully, with a small warning that it’s probably nothing like you’ve eaten before.