Dosas at Parivar

parivar dosa

A masala dosa.

By Deanna Fox

There are universal norms when it comes to street foods around the planet: It must be cheap, it must be portable, and it must be filling.

Dosas are the classic Indian-style version of a crepe that hits all these markers. And Parivar -- the Central Avenue Indian supermarket (No, not that one. Or that one. It's the one with the peacock on the sign.) -- serves them up fresh and piping-hot, just like one would get from a vendor's street cart in an alleyway in New Delhi or Mumbai.

But unlike a street cart, Parviar lets the eater indulge from the comfort of indoor seating in a nice air-conditioned café.

Sometimes, the setting in which one eats is as critical to the dining experience as the food itself. This is especially true for street foods. Currywurst on its own is pretty great. Currywurst eaten under a streetlamp in Berlin after a night of throwing back steins is even better. But don't let the lack of Bollywood-esque setting deter you from venturing to Parivar.

parivar_dosa_closeup.jpg

The term "dosa" applies specifically to the fermented rice flour batter that is spread thin on a large cooktop and cooked until crispy on the edges and slightly pliable. Plain (or "paper") dosas at Parivar come rolled up like a tube, and served with a side of gingery coconut chutney ($4.99). Think of the plain option like the bread course for the rest of your meal, and use it to soak up the flavors of the chat and sauces you might order.

The filled dosas are what you should really be coming for. Folded into a triangle shape, they encase a varying mix of spices, potatoes, peas, onions, or paneer (a fresh Indian cheese).

The mysore masala dosa ($7.99) steals the dosa show at Parivar. The menu description is deceptive and vague in the true flavor of the dosa, which balances a surprising heat with the cooling quality of coconut chutney (which has a little kick in its own right). The sweet-meets-spicy virtues of this dosa are classic South Indian hallmarks, and the filling is stewed together for just enough time to mellow the texture into a jam-like consistency. Pieces of potato give the dosa a bit of body, but altogether it is soft, easy eating.

For a bit more substance, opt for the spring dosa ($8.99), which incorporates carrot and cabbage into the filling.

parivar dosa with samosas

Eat the dosa as you will, but my recommendation is in the street-food style: Pick it up and eat it like a sandwich, dipping jagged edges into the lentil sambar or various chutney accoutrements. If that seems daunting, pull off bits of dosa and dip from there. Forgo the knife and fork. Eat it alone, or pair it with any of Parivar's other offerings (like samosas).

Or, as Daniel B. would suggest, bring a few friends and order as much as you can, and sample piecemeal to determine your own favorite dosa.

Deanna Fox writes about many things, mostly about food. More can be found on her website, Twitter, or Instagram.

More Eat This:
+ Mini hot dogs from Pete's Pups
+ Ethiopian platter at Umana
+ Naan pizza at A Better Bite
+ Frozen yogurt at Ayelada
+ Dahi Puri at Parivar (2011)

Find It

Parivar Spices and Food
1275 Central Ave
Colonie, NY 12205

Comments

Oooh, folded in triangles - that's new! I have enjoyed Parivar's dosas a bunch of times, although I haven't been back in a long time. They used to just roll them up in a plate-overhanging tube. There was one special type of dosa on the menu that would come out nearly three feet wide and require two trays to get it to the table.

The menu/board is incredibly vague... I think there are (or used to be) multiple items with the same description that come out completely different. But, that can be part of the fun. I never know exactly what I'm going to get from Parivar when I order something I've never tried, but then, I've never been disappointed with what I get. (The staff behind the counter will help if you have dietary restrictions)

@Paul, I think the shape depends on which dosa you get. I've had them both ways, sometimes in the same meal.
And now I'm craving one! Time for a trip to Parivar.

When you guys go back make sure you get the Vada Pav! Besides Dosa's its the best thing on the menu.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vada_pav

I walked into Parivar once and I'm not going to lie.. I was totally confused by what was going on back there and left without buying anything. The menu was perplexing and I was too shy to ask questions. I'm with Paul... super vague menu

@PirateJeni. I walked into Parivar twice before mustering the courage to ask questions. But once I asked, the staff was very helpful. They now have ingredient labels on the "subzi" choices in the display case so you can tell what type of vegetables are in each item.
I agree the menu is still vague, but everything I've tried has been very good. I started with the "Full Meal" because it allowed me to try small amounts of several things. Then I started randomly choosing individual items off the menu. Just throw a dart at the menu and order what it hits.

@PirateJeni: I walked there a few days ago... and I'm a bit confused by your confusion. The huge menu hanging above the counter does list all the ingredients in each type of dosas. Nevertheless, as @Fisher pointed out, the staff is really nice, and will answer your questions. Don't forget to grab a mango lassi :) Bonus: Grandma's Pies and Restaurant next door has a good pecan pie. If you dare the combo.

This place is delicious. Filled with an amazing assortment of unique foods. If you're new to chaat you should go there with an open mind and willing to ask questions or try anything. The plus is that it is fresh and vegetarian. You can't go wrong!

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