I had tried South Indian vegetarian cuisine for the first time when I was visiting Vancouver back in October. I had gone to Madras Dosa House for lunch to try their Onion Rava Dosa and absolutely loved it. Just after finishing lunch at Madras Dosa House that day, I came across another post by fmed on the Wise Monkeys blog about Desi Dosa Madras in Delta being the new favourite for rava dosa. This really piqued my curiosity and I was hoping to have the opportunity to try it out when I was back visiting again in November. As luck would have it, my friend C happen to be doing an errand out in Surrey so this was the perfect opportunity for us to stop in at Desi Dosa Madras for lunch on our way back.
I decided to order the favourite items that were mentioned in fmed’s post, which also happened to be similar to the items I had tried at Madras Dosa House so I could do a comparison myself. We started off with the Desi Dosa Combo #1 ($6.95), which consisted of 2 pieces of soft idlies and one piece of medu vada. They were served with sambar and 3 types of chutney – cilantro, coconut, and tomato. Since there was only the two of us, this combo was the perfect amount for us to sample without having to get full orders of the Idly and Medu Vada. Idlies are steamed, soft rice lentil cakes. I found this version at Desi Dosa Madras to be fluffier and a little lighter than the version from at Madras Dosa House. I was even more impressed with the Medu Vada, which is a deep-fried lentil donut. I had found the version from Madras Dosa House to be quite heavy and dense. To my pleasant surprise, this version at Desi Dosa Madras was fluffy and light with a crispy exterior. The Medu Vada was delicious and one of the highlights of the meal for me. I also liked the contrasting flavours of the 3 chutneys that came with this combo. In particular, I thought the coconut chutney was better here as it had lots of flavour but less flaked coconut and so it had a less chunky texture than version from Madras Dosa House.
My friend C and I both wanted to order the plain Onion Rava Dosa ($8.25). Our server suggested that we try the version with the potato masala, the Onion Rava Masala Dosa ($9.25). We decided to get an order of each and asked for the potato masala to be served on the side so that the onion rava dosa remains crispy. The rava dosa here at Desi Dosa is different in style compared to the version at Madras Dosa House. Though it is still paper-thin and lattice-like in appearance, it does not have the semitranslucent windows that the version from Madras Dosa House had. Also, the onion here is diced instead of shredded. The batter is seasoned here and you can ask for it in varying degrees of spice/heat. I ordered mine in medium and minced green chilies were added to my rava dosa. It ended up being a bit spicier than I had anticipated but tasty nonetheless. Texture-wise, I prefer the rava dosa here at Desi Dosa Madras as I find it to be more crispy and chewy.
As we had requested, the potato masala was served on the side. I was surprised at how generous the potato masala portion was and was glad that we had only ordered one as there was more than enough to share amongst the both of us. The potato masala was well-seasoned and flavourful. I enjoyed eating small amounts of the potato masala wrapped with pieces of the rava dosa as together they provided a nice flavour and textural contrast. Our rava dosai each came with a bowl of sambar, which is a spiced lentil-vegetable soup. This version of sambar contained tomato, okra, eggplant, and other vegetables which added to the complexity of the flavour. The soup was delicious and we finished every last drop.
I agree with fmed. This is my new favourite place for Onion Rava Dosa, Medu Vada, and Idly. Personally, I think it is totally worth the drive to go to Desi Dosa Madras. I know many Vancouverites may be reluctant to drive so far for a meal but for me, I’m used the sprawl in Calgary and frequently drive across town for a good meal. Now that I’ve experienced an exemplary version of the Rava Dosa, Medu Vada, and Idly, it certainly sets the bar for my future samplings. I definitely will head back to Desi Dosa Madras on my next trip to Vancouver. In the meantime, I hope to be able to find a place in Calgary that can prepare a decent version of these items.
Desi Dosa Madras
8859 120th Street (Scott Road)