Monday, December 7, 2009

Little India

This snowy morning I headed out with a dear friend to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Little India on Devon in Chicago. Our first stop was Patel Brothers Grocery where I was captivated by wall to wall spices, pickles, nuts, and produce. I picked up some gorgeous paneer, papad wafers to cook at home, several interesting veggies, and a host of crunchy snacks!

From there we headed over to have an early lunch at the Udupi Palace. I came to realize quickly that the majority of my Indian food experiences have been based on northern Indian Cuisine. Udupi serves southern Indian vegetarian fare and I was at once intrigued and delighted.
We started our memorable meal with some Idly, a steamed rice and lentil cake. It had a cloud like texture and the condiments used to dress it up were divine. I was especially fond of the coconut chutney and sambar.
The Masala Dosai was up next. This thin rice crepe was crispy on the outside and harbored an incredible mix of potato and onion. I was fascinated by the dish and kept asking questions about how it was prepared...
...and when the servers delivered the Uthappam with hot chilies my questions kept coming.
Before I knew it, we were invited into the kitchen to meet the chef. The kitchen was filled with hardworking young men in cooks jackets and I found the chef standing over a flat top larger than my kitchen counter. The stunning middle aged woman, wearing a bright pink sari and sporting a red bindi, was throwing a rice batter as thin as water over the flat top in lacy patterns. She talked about how waiting for the perfect golden color was essential to the dish; she pried up a corner to show me what to look for. She drizzled the Dosai with ghee and split it down the middle before making the big flip. At the same time she was working with a lovely tomato, carrot and pea Uthappam. I am going to try out those fillings next time!
I thanked the chef for my lunch and left feeling very comfortable in her kitchen.

The Udupi Palace is a warm an inviting restaurant and I would encourage everyone to check it out!It was just an amazing trip to Little India...and I can't wait to go back!


Mb said...

I can't believe you made it into the kitchen. You are incredible!

Nubia Chaidez said...

I <3 Dosas! Yummmmm!!!!

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