Tag Archives: dosa

Banana Leaf

Cuisine: Indian
816 Bethel Road

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Banana Leaf is a vegetarian and vegan Indian restaurant whose owners hail from Gujarat in western India. Banana Leaf has several features that distinguish it from other Indian restaurants. Although you can order a la carte, most people opt for the grand buffet option, available both at lunch (11.30-2.30pm) and dinner (6-9.30pm). On arrival you are greeted with endless lassi (a rich yogurt ‘smoothie’), which comes in a choice of 6 flavors (mango, rose, khus, sweet or salted). Khus is a bright green herbal syrup with a woodsy medicinal flavor.

The second distinctive feature are the chaats, prepared in the dining room. Chaats are traditionally a street food in western India, originating in Gujarat. These were described as the second course but arrived as a series of separate plates served family style, giving the opportunity to savor each one individually. I won’t describe them all in detail, but they were intriguing mixes of flavor and texture with spicy, crunchy and cooling chutney: they included bhel puri – puffed rice krispies mixed in a tangy and sweet sauce with onions, potatoes, tomatoes and cilantro; ragada pattis – spicy potato patties simmered and seasoned with dried pea spicy gravy; samosa chaat – samosas covered with spicy chickpea gravy.

Also served at the table were masala dosas, thin rice crepes stuffed with a spiced potato mixture. Piled together, they got a little soggy and didn’t quite live up to the versions found at Dosa Corner or Udipi.

The pani puri were a notable hit, small round crunchy puffs into which you pour a spicy broth before eating.

You would be correct in thinking that this is already a lot of food, especially given the set price of $12.95 but the buffet component of the meal is still to come. The buffet consists of choices of an appetizer (potato pakora), vegetable curries, daals, steamed rice, special rice, chutneys, vada (a lentil flour donut) and a dessert (halwa). The buffet changes daily and is different even from lunch to dinner on the same day.

Just when you think you can’t eat or drink anything more, its time for masala chai, milky tea served (we suspect for western tastes) unsweetened. We were there at closing time and were offered any leftovers that we wanted to take home from the buffet.

The owner Kamal Panchal and his wife are extremely friendly and passionate about their food. They enthusiastically explained the dishes to us and patiently answered all our questions, even bringing some khus syrup to the table for us to taste. Kamal is an animated and entertaining story teller. Banana Leaf is very good value and a great introduction to southern and western Indian food.

There is more information about the a la carte menu and buffet options on Banana Leaf’s website as well as a $1 off coupon valid until the end of the year.

Dosa Corner

Cuisine: Indian
1077 Old Henderson
Dosa Corner web site

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Dosa Corner is a small no-frills South Indian Vegetarian restaurant with a small dining area and a focus on take-out. We have tried more than a few things at Dosa Corner and, so far, have enjoyed them all. Appetizers include samosas, medu wada (lentil donuts) and pakora. Except for the idli (steamed rice and lentil dumpling) all appetizers are deep fried.

The speciality of the house is of course the dosa, and there are many different variations offered here. A dosa is a thin crispy crepe made from rice and lentil flour that usually comes wrapped around some sort of filling, although you can get them plain. Favorites include the channa masala dosa with curried chickpeas, potatoes and lots of fresh cilantro and the mysore masala dosa with roasted onion chutney  and topped with a cilantro potato mixture.

Another good option is the spicy spinach uthappam. An uthappam or uttapam is a pancake in which the other ingredients are cooked into the batter such that it looks a little more like a pizza. It is thicker, spongier and less crispy than a dosa. All dosas and uthappam come with dipping sauces.

Dosa Corner also has a variety of rice and curry dishes. Pictured below is the mutter panneer made with homemade cheese. The main dishes are around $7 and for around $10 you can get a thali (combination meal) with either a dosa or with curry and poori (fried bread).

Portion sizes are generous and the owner is friendly and helpful. There is a specials board and lots of pictures of the food on the wall – helpful for when explanations aren’t entirely clear. Dosa Corner also offers Indian sweets and snacks.