Not far from the glorious madness of Market Basket on Somerville Ave., you’ll find one of the Boston area’s most scrumptious vegetarian/vegan options: Dosa-n-Curry. I recently sat down with the owner, Prabhjot Kaur, to learn more about the place that has won me over with its masala dosai. Prabhjot moved here with family moved from Northern India when she was just a teenager and went to Somerville High School. Last year she and two business partners purchased Dosa Temple and changed the name to Dosa-n-Curry. —Meagan O’Brien
Prabhjot: My whole family is vegetarian, my partners are, I am. Luckily the restaurant was already vegetarian and when we bought it we wanted to keep it that way. There is no other local fully vegetarian and Indian restaurant around here that I know of so we’re unique. Yet there are still many people who don’t know we’re vegetarian.
A lot of people who come here are vegetarian, or they like soft Indian food like dosas, which is what we’re most famous for.
Nibble: And so why are you a vegetarian? Is it something that is cultural or religious for you?
Prabhjot: For personal reasons. My parents made us quit meat when we were very young, probably 7 or 8 years old. I don’t even remember the taste of meat at this point – or eggs! Now I just don’t feel like eating it. Yet there are many people who are vegetarian for religious reasons.
Nibble: Is there is a certain part of India that leans more toward vegetarianism?
Prabhjot: No. I used to think that the South was more vegetarian. But we have a South Indian chef who believes that North Indians are more vegetarian—so it’s mixed!
Nibble: OK, can you tell our readers exactly what a dosa is?
Prabhjot: Sure. A dosa is a crepe made out of rice flour, lentils and semolina—and stuffed with various fillings. [See the restaurant’s 14 different dosa selections.] We can also do gluten-free dosas, which don’t include the semolina. They are paper-thin. Some dosas are huge, some are small; some restaurants only sell very, very small ones. Our are very big. There’s one that’s as long as our table!
Nibble: What is that dosa called?
Prabhjot: Paper masala. That is the longest dosa we have.
Prabhjot: Yeah, sometimes one person finishes one; sometimes two people work at it (laughing). It’s very crispy, very thin, and very little batter used to make it. It’s big due to the way you roll it on the grill to expand it.
Nibble: Where do dosas originate from?
Prabhjot: Dosas are from South India; that is what they eat for lunch or breakfast. In North India they eat bread like chapati and roti. Customers from the south of India love that we serve dosas. It connects them back home. It’s not the same, but it makes India feel a little closer.
Nibble: Do they serve dosas as street food in the south of India?
Prabhjot: They serve it on the streets, restaurants, at home, everywhere.
Nibble: Where are Dosa-n-Curry’s clientele from?
Prabhjot: I would say it’s mixed 50/50, Americans and Indians. We also have Arabic customers—I’m guessing they come from Morocco, or that part of Africa.
Prabhjot: People mostly order dosas. They also order paneer tikka masala and popular Southern Indian dishes are vegetable korma or chicknut vegetables.
Nibble: What is YOUR favorite dish?
Prabhjot: Aloo Gobi is my favorite! I could eat cauliflower all day. This dish features cauliflower and potatoes, and is flavored with turmeric, cumin seed, black pepper, salt, red chili, green chili, onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, oil—I think that’s about it.
Nibble: Speaking of spices, I guessing your generally get them from a distributor. But do you ever run out to Market Basket or any other local markets to get spices if you run out?
Prabhjot: Yes, well we usually get our spices in bulk from New York. But locally, Little India, which is across the street, has spices, lentils, everything you need to whip up an Indian meal at home! We also go to Shivalic Food and Spices on Broadway (in Winter Hill).
Prabhjot: Come and try the food! Even though it’s vegetarian, there’s a lot of variety and flavorful stuff! We have people who come in by mistake and eat the food and they keep coming back. It is also the trend to eat vegan and gluten-free food these days; everyone is so health conscious nowadays. We do not use eggs, rennet, bi-animal products, no MSG, etc. This is good quality Indian cuisine!
Don’t just take our word for it, check out Dosa-n-Curry for yourself! It is located at 453 Somerville Avenue. They also do delivery and take out. Look at the Dosa-n-Curry website for more information.