It's a crepe called a "dosa," and if you drive down Devon Avenue, you can now find them up and down the street.
They are one of the most dramatic vegetarian dishes out there. Some, propped up into angular pyramids.. others, rolled up into the size of a Harley's exhaust pipe. They are dosas; the quintessential snack among South Indians, and made throughout the day - from scratch - at places like Uru Swati in West Rogers Park.
"Dosa is back home considered like manly a breakfast item. Because it contains lentils and rice and then you can add your own starch to it, which is a potato if you need it. And it's like a thin crepe made out of a batter that is like maintained at a temperature," said Hansa Chhabira, the owner of Uru Swati.
They begin with lentils, that have been soaked in water overnight, then ground-up in a special machine that pulverizes them. Joining them eventually.. white rice that has also been soaked in water overnight, then blended until it, too, is p
ulverized. The lentils and rice are combined into an all-white batter, that is spread carefully and evenly on a large, flat-top grill. Formed into the shape of a giant oval, the cook adds a generous dollop of softened potatoes, that have been cooked with cumin and mustard seed, as well as onions and peas. After about a minute, the far edge is rolled over, toward the front, and the entire cylinder is presented as-is.
At the table, a few more sauces join the party: a bracing tomato chutney, a milder, almost sweet coconut chutney (since coconuts are so prevalent in Southern India) as well as a mildly spicy soup called sambar. All you do to enjoy it is tear off a piece of the dosa, making sure to grab some of the potato filling, then dip or dunk as you wish, with the accompanying chutneys and sambar.
"It's a perfect vegetarian dish because it's got everything. It's a meal by itself," Chhabira said.
Now typically when people talk about Indain food in Chicago, they usually talking about northern Idian. The heartier, heavier dishes with lamb and chicken. But you need to consider Southern Indian as well up here on Devon Avenue. Dishes like the dosa are incredibly fascinating as well as delicious.
2629 W Devon Ave
2543 W. Devon Ave.
2548 W. Devon Ave.
100 E. Walton St.