Stuart Forster reports on the experience of dining at Dosa Kitchen, a Newcastle Indian restaurant in the North East city’s Jesmond district.
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Dosa Kitchen is described on its website as a ‘South Indian canteen’. As such, it’s one of the few South Indian restaurants in Newcastle and the surrounding region.
For me – a former resident of Bangalore, Karnataka – the prospect of visiting and enjoying authentic South Indian cuisine was exciting. I’d often grab a masala dosa while living in India and frequently dipped vada in coconut chutney and sambhar. Viewing a menu featuring those plus other dishes that I enjoyed while travelling in southern India meant I was looking forward to a midweek evening meal with my partner.
Visiting Dosa Kitchen Jesmond
Dosa Kitchen is located off Osborne Road. The entrance is through a courtyard reached by turning into Holly Avenue West and then into a side street.
Finding a parking space on the streets of Jesmond can be tricky. Bearing that in mind, if you make a reservation and are travelling by car it’s worth arriving a few minutes early. That leaves time to find a parking space.
Dosa Kitchen’s dining room is upstairs. As the restaurant’s ‘South Indian canteen’ description hints, this is an informal dining space.
The tables are big, chunky and wooden. Heavy and solid, there’s next to no chance of them rocking and spilling drinks. Their light colour lends a modern and pleasantly unfancy look to this popular restaurant.
Potted plants are displayed around the room and lamps hang. Look upwards and you’ll see the dark exposed beams of the joists.
Also on the first floor, you’ll find a function room catering for up to 40 guests.
Drinks at Dosa Kitchen
Draught beers from Wylam Brewery are served at the bar. The highly rated craft brewery is based in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park and brews Chola Kings pilsner especially for Dosa Kitchen. Cobra beer, served in so many Indian restaurants across Britain, is also served.
Cocktail lovers might be tempted by drinks mixed with fresh herbs and Indian spices. A take on the Moscow Mule, Dosa Kitchen’s Madras Mule is made with ginger and chilli tinctures, fresh lime and ginger beer. There’s drinks menu also includes the likes of Cardamom Pina Colada and Bombay Tonic.
Driving to the restaurant meant that my choice was limited to soft drinks. Fresh lime soda appealed but, instead, I opted for a lassi, the popular yoghurt drink. Rather than the mango or salt jeera lassi, I ordered a sweet badam lassi made with roasted almonds.
Newcastle Indian restaurant
Sudharsan Murugavel co-founded Dosa Kitchen with Mathen Ganesan. He introduced himself to me as Sud and explained that the venture started as a pop-up on Newcastle’s West Gate Road. Over the course of a couple of years, Dosa Kitchen built its reputation for serving good food and won a following.
The restaurant in Jesmond opened at the end of 2017. Its courtyard offers space to dine outdoors in fine weather.
Originally from Tamil Nadu, Sud recommended that to start with, we try a handful of dishes from southern India. The menu includes a handful of small plates that, when shared, can satisfy hunger and accompany drinks.
Following Sud’s advice, we ordered a selection of vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. Lightly battered, the Chicken 65 had a crispy coat and was strewn with sauce. The Chilli Paneer was rich in flavour and had a lovely chewy texture. Nice and light, the Gobi 65 featured cauliflower florets crusted in spice. And resembling a golden doughnut, we broke open the Medhu Vada to reveal its spongey core and dipped it in coconut chutney.
South Indian food in northern England
Sud explained that Dosa Kitchen does not try to replicate the popular dishes served in so many British curry restaurants. He is aware that travelling to India and trying the food makes many British holidaymakers realise that the dishes that they eat in Indian restaurants in the UK can be markedly different. Chicken Bhuna doesn’t exist in India, said Sud, shaking his head at the thought.
He believes things are changing slowly and a growing number of British people appreciate authentic Indian dishes made by chefs who understand how to use aromatic ingredients while cooking to scale.
Sud said that his favourite dish on the menu is the Chicken Varutha Curry because he appreciates its smoky flavour. “It’s got dry green chilli roasted along with other spices like coriander and cumin. Once it’s all roasted, it’s ground into a paste and then cooked again. When you crush chillies and roast them, they are really dominant. I love it with the parotta,” he said enthusiastically, tempting us to try a portion.
“I love the lamb because it’s got a lot of flavour to it. It’s not like a tomato-ish lamb curry,” he adds pointing towards the Lamb Nilgiri Karuma and Kari Kozhambu dishes.
Sunday Sapaad at Dosa Kitchen
On a Sunday Dosa Kitchen does a tiffin-style meal.
“I come from a very small village. In the small villages, lamb and chicken are always free-range from your farm,” explained Sud.
“Sunday is the only day you get off in India. That’s when all the family come together,” explained Sud behind the idea of serving a Sunday feast at his Newcastle Indian restaurant. “On that particular day, you all get together and make lots of delicious dishes with lamb, chicken, fish, eggs and preparations like that. So we all sit as a family to eat face-to-face.”
He explained that the Sunday sapaad is a translation of the idea to a restaurant.
“We have a meat platter, you’ve got two different starters, three different curries and you got to sambal and rasam, which is like a soup. We’ll have a yoghurt pudding. So it’s very special for even a lot of Indian people because no one’s got time to cook so many different dishes for a family of four or three. Sunday is really special,” he added.
Dosa in Britain
While talking with Sud we learnt that dosa is naturally a gluten-free dish. It is made out of ground rice and lentils soaked overnight and turned into a batter. Once the batter is made, it is left to ferment.
Preparing the batter takes approximately 40 hours. That’s why you don’t find many Indian restaurants in Britain that make dosa following the traditional method.
“It’s naturally gluten-free and it’s very healthy,” said Sud.
Having dosa and rasam on the menu attracts many Indian guests to Dosa Kitchen.
How to order at Dosa Kitchen
I asked Sud what he would recommend if somebody visits Dosa Kitchen and is unfamiliar with South Indian cuisine.
“We don’t have a right or wrong way to have this menu. A typical Konkanian like me, if I’ve got a few cravings, I would go for the Chicken Varuth Curry and a parota. But I will have a chicken, fish or lamb dish – like a dry starter – to go along with it and just pick and eat,” said the chef and co-owner of the Newcastle Indian restaurant.
He explained that it is no problem if you scoop up the sauce of a chicken or a lamb curry with your dosa.
The flavours of the dishes that we shared while dining at Dosa Kitchen impressed me. The dosa and vada brought back memories of life in Karnataka. It’s a welcoming but laid-back restaurant, reasonably priced and a place that I expect to return to because of that appealing combination.
Dosa Kitchen Jesmond
See the Dosa Kitchen website for opening hours. The restaurant is at 7 Osborne Road, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 2AE (tel. 0191 250 9725). It is a 10-minute walk north of the Jesmond Metro station.
Hotels in Jesmond
Looking for hotels in Newcastle? Find a hotel in Jesmond on Booking.com and visit Dosa Kitchen:
Find out more about the city via the Visit Ghent website. The Visit Flanders site is also a useful source of information about the surrounding region.
Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning writer. His work has been published by BBC Good Food, Discover Britain and Wanderlust.
Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post about dining at the Dosa Kitchen South Indian canteen in Jesmond. Planning to visit Newcastle upon Tyne? You may also enjoy posts about top restaurants in Newcastle city centre, places to visit in Newcastle and art museums and galleries in Newcastle and Gateshead.
Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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