Thanjai (Montreal)


South Indian food in Montreal? Why not? While associated with cooking in the French idiom, Montreal is home to a large number of restaurants featuring the cuisines of the large number of immigrant communities that can be found in the city. Jewish concerns like Schwartz’s and St. Viateur may be the most famous, having become iconically Montrealer. The Portuguese presence is also long established as are immigrants from Francophone countries such as Haiti and Vietnam. But there are other communities as well—Montreal is home to a dizzying array of languages. On our final full day in the city we spent the morning in conversation with two non-profit groups in the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood that work with immigrant communities, especially people from lower income brackets. Right next to the building that houses the second group is Thanjai, a restaurant recommended to us for dosas. All 13 of us accordingly descended on them for lunch. Herewith an account of our experience. Continue reading

Dosa King (Spring Lake Park, Minnesota)

Dosa King: Sad Masala DosaMore like Dosa Pretender. This was not a good meal and has put my proposed slow-motion survey of Indian food in the Twin Cities metro area in some jeopardy as it has led my wife to beg off attending any more of these meals—she thought our meal at Bawarchi was fine but nothing worth driving two hours for; but this she thought barely approached acceptability; and I’m not sure if the friend who accompanied us is enthused at the prospect of a possible repeat of this experience.

Caveats: We ate lunch on a Saturday and it was the predictable buffet. It is entirely possible that they do better at dinner (though reports I’ve since received suggest that that may not be very much better). Also, it’s only one meal; maybe we caught them on a bad morning. Who knows? I’m certainly not going back again to investigate.

What we ate—please click on an image below, if you dare, to launch a larger slideshow with detailed captions Continue reading

Carnatic Cafe (Delhi, January 2014)

I apologize for not having a whisky review on International Whisky Day, which marks the birthday of the late, great whisky writer, Michael Jackson. I do have news that will delight the majority of my whisky-focused readership: this is the last of my food reports from our Delhi trip earlier this year. (You could, of course, skip this and instead read the Aberlour A’Bunadh vertical I published last year on this day, when my blog was still very new.)

Anyway: this is a report on a very nice and very casual meal at Carnatic Cafe, a small restaurant in the Friends Colony shopping center in South Delhi that serves what has been for many decades now one of the most popular cuisines in India, and the only one that could rival the reach and popularity of Mughlai and Indian Chinese food. I refer, of course, to familiar South Indian vegetarian food: idlis, dosas, vadas and so forth. I apologize for being so geographically inexact–I am just trying to give a sense of the view from the not very culturally sensitive North. It is only relatively recently and still not particularly pervasively that this food has been identified in North India with more specific South Indian locations, and most specifically with the name “Udupi”. In my youth all of South India was contained in the descriptor “Madrasi” and this food generally had that or some other recognizable signifier of South Indianness slapped onto it. Continue reading