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Published May 7th 2019
Travel halfway around the world or go to Kingsbury
Nine tastes of dosa coming your way Out in the boondocks in the middle of nowhere, you see a tall well-lit sign announcing Taste of Chennai. Intriguing to say the least and of course, you put it on your list of things to investigate over the weekend. And so that's where I went over the weekend.
Taste of Chennai has a dining area serving South Indian fare the way it was meant to be. Owner cum chef, Baskaran, takes great pains to prepare dishes the traditional way and not give in to fast food commercialism. And it shows in terms of flavour and taste. About thirty varieties of dosa recipes are up his sleeve with at least nine of them appearing periodically on the menu. He's brave enough to add a dash of North Indian panache by way of Navaratan flavours to what is essentially a South Indian preparation and get away with it.
The dosa was crisp and tasty with the right amount of ghee heralding its arrival long before it appeared on the table. it was served along with two varieties of coconut chutney one of which was a magic melange of coconut, tomato, garlic, and some magic secret ingredient. The other looked plain and pale but did a great job of countering the flamboyant partner. Baskaran assured me it had healing properties as well.
The parathas came with a yummy channa masala that was spicy and could even be mistaken for beef if one were eating blindfolded. It complemented the parathas and made it come alive waking up your taste buds to join the party.
South Indian filter coffee
A meal of dosa and chutney would not be complete without a cup of South Indian filter coffee. It was served in true-blue Chennai style in a stainless-steel coffee cup complete with a bowl doing duty as a saucer. You are supposed to give it a good long pull from one to the other to bring out the flavour. You better not try that at home because if you don't get it right there'll be coffee on the floor and none in your cup.
Non-vegetarian: If that's what you want What began as a solely vegetarian eatery soon gave in to public demand and began to offer non-vegetarian food. But they prepare the non-vegetarian dishes in a separate mobile kitchen in a food truck so as to keep the vegetarian kitchen untouched by any form of meat. Must admit such sensitivity to the sentiments of traditional vegetarians is unheard of.
The Mangalore chicken prepared with coconut broth was flavourful, easy on the spices, and perfectly complemented the parathas. It was served in a little copper bucket and looking quaint and appetising at the same time. There was a combination of fragrant spices and steamy goodness rising out of it.
Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine have been embraced whole-heartedly by a loyal band of repeat customers. The food is tasty, simple, yet innovative in that they have varieties of dosa and rice dishes to suit every palate. Baskaran darts in from his kitchen to come check on the guests and looks gratified at all the compliments coming his way.
The grocery store is stocked with all the pantry staples such as spices, condiments, rice, flours, sauces, and then some. They have a good selection of frozen foods, including frozen vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces ready to go into the pot. You will find a few utensils like pressure cookers and food mixers suitable for Indian cooking that you may not find elsewhere. Then, of course, there are the delicacies and sweets, savouries, and snacks.
Catering :All sizes big and small
They are also available for catering for any occasions and their record is feeding 300 people for a function in Monash. However, they are usually happy to go about 25 kms from their location in Kingsbury. Small family get-togethers and birthday parties are their forte.
It's not hard to find Taste of Chennai as it's right on Plenty Road and a short distance from La Trobe University. It's also just across the street from Adventure Mini Golf and a few minutes from Bundoora Park and the Historic Bundoora Homestead Art Centre. Tram 86 runs through all of these locations if you've decided to not drive. Taste of Chennai restaurant is open 11am to 2pm and 5pm to 10 pm and their store is open all day long from 10 am to10 pm.