For a spot that caters to Indian food addicts who may (or may not ) want the additional boon of a menu that's also Kosher, vegetarian and largely gluten-free, check out DosaiNYC. A newcomer to Manhattan's "Curry Hill," the food is a tribute to the southeastern Indian state of Tami Nadu with a nod to Northern India for a few more well-known items.
At an eatery named for what was once a humble breakfast item, you should certainly sample a dosai from one of the many choices. We opted for the spring dosai in which the thin, crepe-like batter encloses a mix of green peppers, cabbage, potatoes, carrots and more and is served with an array of chutneys including a tomato version in addition to sambhar, a lentil and vegetable "stew." .A dosai is made from lentil and rice flour and can be rolled or folded, served plain or stuffed. The couple at the next table were munching the saffron dosai that comes with a syrup of molasses-like jaggery and ghee (clarified butter) and pronounced it "terrific."
Among traditional Southeastern Indian starters are the springy, soft steamed idlis to be dipped in sambhar and various chutneys as well as onion pakora, addictive fritters that are totally greaseless. Uttapam are similar to pancakes and can be topped with spiced veggies, tomatoes or onions or green chilies for a hit of zing (noted as spicy on the red menu that compliments the red banquettes and the very attractive branches that are underlit to cast a reddish glow against the white wall.)
I loved the red pumpkin thoran, a sort of casserole, with flavor notes from curry leaves, black chickpeas and coconut and also enjoyed the rich, bright green saag paneer with cubes of cheese in the smoothly pureed spinach.
Thalis, served at both lunch and dinner, provide great variety on one platter as each combination includes a curry served with rice, lentils, vegetables, sambhar, Indian pickle, raita (yogurt with vegetables), freshly baked bread and dessert. The breads are outstanding whether it be the nan, whole-wheat chapatti cooked on an open fire or pan-grilled parotta.
Michelin-stared Hemant Mathur is Executive Chef with Chef Hemnath Nagarajan in charge of the day-to-day kitchen operation. You can enjoy an eclectic variety of vegetables such as green bananas, gherkins, snake and bitter gourd. There are a number of delicious rice dishes available including bisi bela huliana which combines the flavors of tamarind -infused lentils and yogurt while lemon or tomato rice each have an appealingly, distinctive taste.
Service is gracious and very hospitable. Thanks to its menu, the restaurant is popular with Kosher clientele and has even qualified for rabbinical certification. Even when crowded at peak hours, the noise level is entirely manageable.
DosaiNYC offers takeout and delivery and is open Sundays through Thursdays from noon to ten PM; Fridays and Saturdays from noon to ten-thirty at night.