Flavorful Southie Twist at Carnatic Cafe

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Carnatic Café is a cosy restaurant with no more than seating for 20-30 people. It occupies the ground floor booth at the Glitz Cinema complex of the despicably dirty New Friends Colony market. Thankfully as soon as I entered this little restaurant I forgot about the filth and was geared to eat some excellent, authentic south Indian food.

First things first, the ambiance. The amber walls feature paintings, some artifacts and more paintings, making it a cheerful little place. Next, this is my second visit to the place, first being a bit disappointing. The reason is the idlis and vadas never made the cut. The idli’s were not bunny soft, although fresh. The vadas are a little bland. This time I decided to go with a fresh outlook and the experience did turn out to be rather wonderful.

The concept here is slightly different- they serve food one plate at a time, rather than bringing it all together and serve food not in steel plates, banana leaves but in plastic trays boxed with compartments for the chutneys. These are a highlight here. Following the patriotic colour palette — orange, white and green all of them are super thick and super delicious. We ordered the Paddu first. Yes, it is oily. But so freaky delicious. These crunchy yet soft-centred balls are like Bread Rolls that we Punjabi’s love to snack on. I will however say I dabbed them on the tissue before dunking them in the piping hot sambhar or the cold, rich chutney.

We then got the Malleshwaram 18th Cross and Bombat. Both are thicker than the usual dosas, fried golden brown on the outside and generously coated with spicy paste on the inside. As I tucked into the dense, perfectly crisped Bambat Dosa which is rich with the warm, fragrant flavor of garlic and other spices I felt that even familiar food like uthapams and dosas can be unexpected and delightful. The superlative Mahabaleshwar 18th Cross Dosa with its filling of tangy gunpowder (lovely, nutty, spicy powder that is a blend of chilies, roasted lentils, and others) and white butter slathered all over is highly recommended. These dosas were so good that I didn’t feel like sopping my base with the chutney or the sambhar.

The staff is up to mark, the service is quick and the prices are reasonable. I reckon a filling meal won’t cost you more than 1000 bucks. The terrific flavour that Carnatic Café comes forward with is truly inspiring. Studied in Bangalore myself, I could sense the commitment this place has to its roots, eschewing fashionable frippery for good, old fashioned substance. This is going on my list of favorite places to eat Dosas in Delhi.

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