Dosa Hut, 604 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 8592 4900
Dosa Corner, 587 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Phone: 8528 5120
Those of us who love Indian food owe the Dosa Hut crew a big vote of thanks.
As far as I am aware, they were the very first to brings dosas to Melbourne’s western suburbs.
These days, there are five Dosa Hut branches at various parts of the Melbourne.
But the change that first shop in West Footscray helped initiate extends well beyond dosas and extra branches.
It’s taken the best part of a decade, but in that time Indian eating-out in Melbourne has changed dramatically.
Not just dosas, but also the likes of idlis and vadas have become common.
And it’s not just about those dishes, mostly associated with South Indian food – now Dosa Hut, and their many competitors, do Indo-Chinese, biryanis and sometimes even thalis.
What this transformation means is that where once eating in Indian restaurants was once mostly rather formal, and correspondingly expensive, it is now informal and very affordable.
Even those places that would perhaps have preferred to stick with more formal a la carte offerings have been forced by sheer demand and expectations to cater to this market.
And hooray for that, we say!
I still eat at the original Dos Hut on occasion – and was definitely interested in trying out their Ramadan specials.
These include haleem, of which I am not a fan, and a couple of biryanis – lamb shank and “gutti vankaya dum biryani” (eggplant biryani).
Unfortunately, on the day I visit for lunch, the lamb shank number is unavailable.
But fortunately, settling for eggplant is by no means a case of second best.
My biryani ($13.95) appears at my table (top photo) looking pretty much like any other biryani.
Rice, gravy, raita – but no hardboiled egg.
But the proof is, as always with biryani, is hidden.
For within my rice are to be found two fat, rotund, tender and very tasty eggplants.
This dish makes for a nice change from my usual biryani order of chicken or lamb, though it is of rather high spiciness.
Right across the road at Dosa Corner, they’re also doing haleem for Ramadan.
And another dish I am most eager to try – paya ($9.99, roti $2 each).
This is a soup/stew made with sheep trotters.
There’s not a lot of meat involved, but as is so often the way, the flavour is of immense meatiness, along with being tangy and having a nice chilli burn going on.
In many ways, the broth/soup reminds of the equally meaty-but-meatless broths routinely served at many East African places, of which this Flemington establishment is our current fave.
The couple of pieces sheep trotter?
Well, no, not a lot of meat; but, yes, a whole bunch of gelatinous matter.
Not, in other words, a cup of tea for everyone.
Personally, I love it as something different and delicious.
And I reckon anyone with a fondness for equally fiddly and bony chicken feet will feel the same!