The Spicy Journey
By Ellen & Bryan/
Along a busy thoroughfare in Hicksville,
where the aromatic scent of curry and spice seeps from every
other restaurant, there is one that stands apart.
Taking us to a region of India where many of the restaurants
along Broadway rarely do, Dosa Diner enables a Foodie to experience
the rich taste of South India, and through a vegetarian approach
With owner Ashok Kumar Nataraj as our guide, these Foodies
were led through a vast array of South Indian spices and vegetables
unique to the region.
Dosa Diner opened its doors at 128 Broadway in Hicksville
two years ago when Nataraj brought his eight years of restaurant
experience to the increasingly South Asian-populated neighborhood.
As a manager at Sitar here in Huntington, Nataraj saw first
hand what spices and curries enticed the diverse palates of
Long Island, but more importantly he was able to pin-point
exactly what the menus throughout the Island’s Indian
restaurants were missing – South Indian dishes.
“There are a few South Indian restaurants in the area,
but not many,” he explained Sunday night as the tables
throughout the modest restaurant began to fill. “And
all they offer is the traditional Dosa, Medu Vada and Uthappam.
They don’t offer the authentic meals and that’s
what we do.”
Leading us towards the appetizers, Nataraj quickly presented
a plate of Fried Idly ($3.75), morsels of soft rice pancakes
coated in delectable spices fried to a crisp perfection. While
savoring the local delicacy, Nataraj filled the Foodies in
on two other traditional South Indian appetizers, the Bhel
Puri ($2.95), a dish of puffed rice tossed with onion, chili,
tomato, coriander, tamarind and mint; and the Ragada Patties
($4.25), spicy potato patties, layered chick peas, onion,
yogurt, tamarind and mint sauce. The more familiar appetizers,
such as Samosas ($3.50), potato and peas stuffed in a crispy
wheat bread and deep fried, and Mix Vegetable Pakora ($3.50),
sliced onions, potatoes and lentils battered and fried, were
found on the moderately priced menu as well.
Looking over the short list of soups including, Rasam ($2),
a South Indian tradition of spice soup; Cream of Tomato ($2.95);
and the Mulligatawny ($2.95), a puree of coconut and lentils,
and toward the enormous portions emerging from the swinging
kitchen doors, these Foodies, despite the mouthwatering urge
we were battling, moved on towards the main course.
Choosing between the Dosa Diner Heavens, various entrées
priced at $7.25; Uthappams, an assortment of rice pancakes
ranging from $4.95 to $6.95; Dosa Diner Delights, a mix of
vegetables layered inside a crisp crepe made from a batter
of lentils and rice blended with water and left to ferment
overnight, served with a rich sambar stew, spicy mango chutney,
and coconut chutney; and the Dosa Diner Rice Heavens, a selection
of vegetable and spice-based rice dishes ranging from $5.50
to $6.50, we went for a more traditional Dosa Diner Delight
and the restaurant’s take on a North Indian dish.
Ordering to spice, Nataraj placed the Cheese Chennai Masala
Dosa ($7.50), named after Chennai a city in South India, on
the table. Cut into sections, a layer of spices coated the
inside of the crisp dosa, which was wrapped around a bed of
soft potatoes in melted cheese. The Bhindi Masala ($7.25)
made its way to the table next. Due to its thicker sauce,
even though Nataraj steers away from the often-used creams
and butters used in North Indian cooking, the Bhindi Masala,
a mix of crisp okra with bell peppers, onions and kadai masala,
is still is a North Indian dish.
“We make sure all of waiters can cook as well as serve,”
Nataraj chimed in over the soft instrumentals humming in the
background. “That way they know what is going into each
meal. And if it gets busy we can send anyone to the back to
help with the cooking.”
Dosa Diner also specializes in sweet South Indian desserts
including Kulfi ($3.00); frozen sweetened rich milk sauce
flavored with mango, malai or pistachio, among many others.
Reaching the end of our journey through the authentic South
Indian dishes prepared by chiefs Krishna Kumar, Ram Kumar
and Senthil Kumar, we knew that as we opened those doors the
rich scent following us would be sure to lure in more diners,
who have yet to experience the spicy, yet sweet and savory
tastes of South India.
Atmosphere: Casual, Family
Cuisine: Authentic South Indian
Price Range: Inexpensive
Buffet lunch served daily. Monday- Friday $6.95,
Saturday and Sunday $8.95
Monday-Sunday 11:30 a.m.- 10 p.m.
11:30 a.m.- 3 p.m.,
ala carte 3 p.m.- 10 p.m.