Ever since the announcement at the beginning of the year that Philadelphia Chutney Company would open in Center City, I have patiently been anticipating the arrival of a casual place to get my dosa fix in Philly, a city strangely lacking in Southern Indian cuisine. Besides the linen-topped dining at the fabulous Palace at the Ben, which only serves dosas during their Southern Indian Sunday brunch, I'm not aware of another place in the heart of the city to grab a dosa.Philadelphia Chutney Company is a bright, small, fast-food style restaurant smack in the middle of Center City, that conveniently does take-out for workers that need a fast meal. Delivery up to 10 blocks will also be available soon.For those unfamiliar with a dosa, it's a large, round crepe made from a fermented rice and lentil batter, with ultra-crispy edges and a soft center folded around various fillings. Dosas are usually just shy of 2 feet long, and can be a meal in themselves.
If you care for a thicker bread around your fillings, order a uttapa, which is simply the same batter used for a dosa, but made thicker and not as large.
The Philadelphia Chutney Company has 15 dosas/uttapas to choose from. The sada dosa, a plain crepe with no fillings; and the masala dosa, a crepe filled with a spiced potato filling are the only two traditional dosas you'll find on the menu. All of the other dosas are a fusion of Indian and Western flavors for those who prefer more familiar flavors and tamer heat levels. Fusion dosas have fillings like arugula, avocado, roasted tomatoes, balsamic roasted onions, goat cheese, Jack cheese, and veggie chicken.
Everything on the menu is vegetarian. Veggie chicken and veggie tuna can be found sprinkled throughout the menu of dosas, uttapas, and wraps.Philadelphia Chutney Company's dosas are delightfully thin and crispy, but, with any dosa, are best eaten immediately before losing it's crisp. The masala dosa filled with potatoes spiced with turmeric, curry leaf, and mustard seed is right on.The curry chutney veggie chicken dosa with slightly wilted spinach, and sweet balsamic roasted onions flirts only lightly with Indian flavors. There is enough spinach to make one feel healthy, and the veggie chicken is sparse enough to not weigh one down. While I adore traditional dosa fillings, I can get behind the fusion.
Cilantro, curry, mango, tomato, or coconut chutneys come with the dosas, but be sure to pipe up your preference, as the coconut chutney or cilantro chutney seem to come standard.
At $2.50 for an order of two, the samosas might be the best deal on the fairly priced menu which tops out at only $8. About the size of a large man's palm and packed full of spicy mashed potato filling, an order of crispy, fried samosas with sweet tamarind chutney will leave you full all day.If you like spice, be sure to order the gobi Manchurian appetizer, an Indo-Chinese cauliflower snack surrounded by a thick, fried batter and smothered in a spicy, faintly sweet, Indian tomato sauce. It's like Chinese sweet and sour pork but with a vegetable and Indian twist. By far, the favorite dish of my visit. (If I were a dosa newcomer, I would have said Masala dosa was my favorite.)The hot masala chai was weakly spiced. Sugar comes on the side, and can be added as you see fit.
It was well worth the long wait for The Philadelphia Chutney Company; they did not disappoint. My only wish is for my favorite dosa, the traditional and very spicy, ginger-spiked Mysore masala dosa, to make an appearance on the menu. Maybe as a chef's special?
Philadelphia Chutney Company
1628 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA 19103