Restaurant, Indian / Pakistani
Set in a modest strip mall, Dosa World turns out elegant renditions of Indian fare from around the country.
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From South India to New York, dosas tend to fall among diner fare and street food as a utilitarian dish. But that’s not the case at Dosa World in Hicksville, where the fermented rice and lentil crepe is downright elegant.
Like a leaf of handmade paper rolled into a golden brown cone, it’s a dramatic flourish on a plate. Stuffed with lightly spiced potatoes, it smells nutty, a little sour and sweet, with turmeric that masquerades as orange rind and maybe ginger.
It’s also a dish to share, as you and your tablemates tear from the cone, using pieces instead of utensils to scoop the filling.
And while dosas are most often served for breakfast or tiffin — the light afternoon snack — they’re available here throughout lunch and dinner.
Dosa World opened in late fall, a restaurant from chefs Loganathan Thangarasu, Muguran Gounder and two other partners. Next door to an optician and a spa, it’s so modest you might miss it.
Sure, you can visit Dosa World during lunch for the buffet, which is perfectly serviceable. But when you order from the menu, you get to see the kitchen’s real skill.
The partners’ resumés show as much, with two men having worked for years at the respected Pongal, a South Indian restaurant in Manhattan’s Curry Hill neighborhood, and two others hailing from Chennai Garden by Tiffin Wallah, around the corner.
Dosa World combines the sensibilities of these restaurants, serving kosher certified vegetarian fare from North and South India with a menu of appetizers and thalis (appetizer assortments), as well as the dosas.
The dosa invites infinite variations, from the masala dosa to the ever-popular Jaipur masala dosa, with spicy paneer — homemade cheese — onion, tomato, chilies and peas. In this case, the dosa is tinged red and rolled like a cigar.
I also like rava dosas, which are made from unfermented batter that creates an especially crispy crepe. Like a regular dosa, it’s awfully large, but heavier and square, folded like sheets. It’s so addictive, you could probably eat one by yourself if you had to.
Though the restaurant is called Dosa World, you’d do yourself a disservice not to try other dishes. For snacks or starters, the kitchen recommends aloo tikki, two fritters filled with potatoes, onions and spices, which I enjoyed but didn’t love because it was too similar to masala dosa filling.
I tend to order behl puri, which I’m kind of embarrassed about, since it’s like stating my love for nachos. But there’s no shame in loving a dish of puffed rice, tomato, onion, tamarind and cilantro, a juxtaposition of textures and flavors.
The papri chaat is a close second, with more sweetness, puffed rice topped with yogurt and date chutney that you stir around with a spoon so the dish resembles a finger painting.
“It’s like dessert,” my colleague said during lunch.
Not sure what to get? There’s always a thali, an assortment of small plates, with four regional variations to choose from. I’m partial to the South Indian thali with papadum; aviyal, a vegetable dish with coconut and curry leaves; a dish of sauteed vegetables called poriyal, tomato-based rasam soup; and poori, fried bread.
Dessert at an Indian restaurant is usually an afterthought for me, unless I’m with someone who’s nostalgic about mango lassi, the ubiquitous yogurt drink (that’s not just for dessert).
But here’s something to consider, especially if you’re seduced by aromatics. The cardamom-scented kulfi, denser and creamier than ice cream, served on almond paste, is quite lovely. It’s a refined dessert to wrap up a surprisingly elegant meal.