Friday, July 2, 2010

Dosa Hut

What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Family Meal Deal"?  Some sort of high-fat, high-salt junk food "treat", no doubt, marketed by fast food companies as every mother's dream "night off."  For the record, this mother's idea of a night off is cocktails at Madame Brussels and associated debauchery, not a bloody variety bucket.  However, I could be tempted with Dosa Hut's "Family Biryani Meal Deal," a mammoth pot of biryani proudly advertised on this little restaurant's front window.  McDonalds, watch your back!

Dosa Hut, bolted on to the end of West Footscray's Barkly Village, have a staggering menu of South Indian treats.  Choose from idli (UFO-shaped rice flour cakes), vada (crispy lentil flour doughnuts), or dosa (huge, paper-thin crepes made from fermented rice & lentil flours).  If you are used to the familiar equation, Indian = butter chicken and rogan josh, it might come as a bit of a shock to find no curries on the menu at all!

Masala dosa is one of my favourite foods of all time.  The dosa is paper-thin and crispy, yet pliable enough to form a long cigar shape.  Dosa Hut has a plethora of fillings - choose from egg, lamb, cheese, or even chocolate!  To decipher the menu, "kal" dosa is one that is somewhat softer than normal, "podi" has a spicy powder, and "rava" is made from semolina.  "Masala dosa" means that the dosa will conceal a dry-style potato curry, spiced with curry leaves, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds.

Masala Combo, $9.95

Concealed within the folded dosa, Dosa Hut's potato curry was excellent, heavy on the delicious ghee and bursting with fresh spice flavours.  It also came with a vada or lentil doughnut, which I usually avoid as in my experience they have a poor unhealthy-to-delicious ratio.  This one was really good though, springy inside and crispy outside, perfect for mopping up the creamy coconut chutney.  The little tower on the right is upma, a kind of savoury, wet, couscous-type dish mixed with whole spices and tomato.  Unfortunately, Dosa Hut let itself down on the sambar, the spicy, thin soup that is so beloved in South India.  This version was too watery and lacked punch.

Goat biryani, $9.50

I normally avoid biryani, as it often tastes to me like nothing more than gluggy, oily fried rice.  Not so Dosa Hut's version.  Each impossibly long grain of basmati rice was separate and stained a multitude of hues from spices and saffron.  Within the pyramid of biryani lay nuggets of excellent, tender goat, redolent with cardamom.  It came with very thin, so-so raita and an interesting peanut sauce.  Be warned, though - it is chilli-hot and probably not great for kids.

So, fellow parents, when nothing seems to be going right and you want a night (or goddamit, a whole day) off, take the family to Dosa Hut.  They won't care if you make a mess, and if you have guiltily left the kids in the care of the one-eyed babysitter (the TV) all afternoon, you can assuage some guilt by combining craft time with dinner time:

Dosa Hut
604 Barkly St, West Footscray (map)
Phone: 9687 0171
Hours: 11am-11pm, 7 days

Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut on Urbanspoon


  1. 'Biryani Meal Deal' - love it! And now that I'm now an official 'westsider' I have no excuse but to check this place out!

  2. Hi Adrian - yes, welcome to the west!! I look forward to seeing you around these parts.

  3. Me and a mate used to whine and moan about the lack of dosa places in the west, so all's I can say is "yeeehar" and about time, too! I agree with you, though, about the biryani and heat levels.

  4. Nah, but we go to another place mostly instead of Dosa Hut - name escapes me at the mo; opposite African Village. But I DID go to Kitchen Samrat last night to get me some of that tamarind drink, and had a thali. Hanging out on food blogs is dangerous and life-changing!

  5. Where did you go? Only African Village I know is the one in Dandy.

  6. OK, I got it wrong - the African place is called Harambe, at 205/207 Nicholson. The Indian place whose name is on the tip of my tongue is on the opposite side and about 50m further towards Irving St; the bus stop is right outside it.

  7. I took this blog's and my friend's advise and took home the $35 family biryani and I should say that was the worst biryani I ever had. I can say that because I hail from the land of biryani (Hyderabad) and this place is making a mockery of such a beautiful cuisine. Authentic biryani is light in spices and has a nice balance of important ingredients such as yoghurt, mint, lime and golden-coloured fried onions - none of them could be found in this version. This lame version was floating with chillies, cloves, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and less-meat-more-bone cheap meat. Don't waste you money there and spend it the door opposite to enjoy beautifully made pizza at Gusto.

  8. Dosa hut has some below average dosa.
    The only good thing is their staff are quite easy going - I usually order a mix of meat and potato because I can't go full veg when I'm stark raving hungry (that's when I start craving heavy Indian dishes!) but the lack of good dosa has always made me return here.
    I thought nothing about the very questionable hygiene (grime and oil caked tables, chairs and walls which aren't usually cleaned promptly but I'm able to close one eye since they seem short staffed) until one day - it had to be a day I introduced a friend to Dosa Hut - he stuck a spoon filled with dal (lentil) under my nose and said, "Look at it an insect?"

    I looked at it and thought perhaps it was a cumin seed or perhaps a dodgy seed/spice with a strand sticking out of it.
    Nope, it had antennae and a neat row of spindly, crumpled up legs....COCKROACH!
    And not only a cockroach - it was a baby cockroach.
    We paid, because we didn't want to make a scene in that place and had no beef against the people running the joint - but we left, and never went back because the mere mention of 'Dosa Hut' conjures images of freshly sprouted baby cockroaches crawling all over their cutlery, pots, pans and spices and dying spicy deaths in daals and chutneys.
    Rule of thumb is - if we want cheap, we see grime - we should be ready for insects.
    By the way, I've seen cockroaches in Bismi (Sydney Rd) and Daawat (Richmond) while dining in, casually crawling up from under the table I was sitting at towards a dropped chickpea or crawling along the walls.
    Maybe its my bad luck with them - but unless it looks really clean, I operate on a see no evil don't ask don't tel policy - always take away food at dodgy Indian places.

  9. i read somewhere that Cocoroaches are good for blood circulation and arthritis...bring it on!!!

    1. Now THAT is looking on the bright side of life! Love it!


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