A masala dosa served with coconut chutney, tomato chutney, peanut chutney and sambar, with a sweet made of lentil paste. • Photo by Pinky Gupta

For non-Indians who like to eat Indian food, they mostly associate Indian cuisine with spicy, meaty dishes such as chicken tikka masala or other curries. A new restaurant near Bel-red road in Bellevue wants to challenge adventurous food lovers to a wider variety of Indian dishes. The newly opened Dosa House will take you on a journey of Indian cuisines — and all the dishes are vegetarian.

It can be a challenge for those of us who are strict vegetarians to find a variety of options on the menu that we’ll eat. There will be options, but they are limited to one or two plates. Dosa House is a new place for vegetarians who are strictly vegetarian to try out, where the entire menus is theirs to choose from. Dosa House, as it’s signage promises, is “pure vegetarian”.

In this regional culinary market, Indian-born Anik Kumar saw an opportunity. Anil Kumar, a bank employee, moved from Punjab, India to California in 1998, and in 2004, he and the family ventured to Seattle, where they experimented in the food industry.

“Along with two other people, we rented a small place which seated about 20 to 25 people. It was a new concept, and we received good response,” said Kumar. After trying their luck in a small space, Kumar opened the vegetarian restaurant Chaat House in Bellevue. It became very popular among Indian and non-Indian people.

Dosa House is Kumar’s newest venture. It is a self-service restaurant with the goal to to serve authentic food in fast-food time. The Dosa House menu boasts an array of spectacular masala dosas, plain dosas, idli, uthapam and vada and Indian drinks including mango lassi (a yogurt-based mango smoothie) and chai (and just a heads up, no sodas).

Chef preparing plain dosa made with batter of rice and lentils • Photo by Pinky Gupta

Though, they serve regular other north Indian dishes and desi chinese — basically Chinese food prepared in Indian style — the biggest attraction are the dosas. The ghee dosa is a foot long and is doused in the finest cow ghee and stuffed with a flavourful potato masala. There is enough ghee to make your fingers oily when you tear off dosa pieces. And chocolate dosa was something new! More on the dosas in a bit.

I kicked off my food excursion with some starters. I had the mouth-watering idli-vada sambar with three unique variations of chutneys and a faintly spicy sambar. This was delectable with every bite. It had both the elements of tangy and spicy — an excellent combination. I also tried the white soft idli made of rice and lentils which are soft and delicious, heaven in your mouth. The vada (fried lentil dumplings soaked in sambar) was splendidly crunchy on the outside and soft inside.

On to the main attraction, the dosas! I ordered the masala onion dosa stuffed with mustard-seed-flecked spiced mashed potatoes and sprinkled with onions and eagerly awaited what was presented to me — a thin, oval-shaped pancake filled with mashed spicy potatoes with roasted vegetables. Inexplicably both crisp and pliant, I dipped the dosa into the tasty tangy tomato chutney and rejoiced.

All dosas are served with mild, coconut and green chili chutney, peanut chutney and tomato, garlic chutney and a piping hot sambar, which is a lentil soup prepared with spices and vegetables. The sambar offered a perfect balance of spices to complement the vegetables, a mix of curry leaves and sliced green chilies that pack a lip-numbing punch. I always dig into an extra bowl of sambar. Though sambar is served as a side dish with dosas, in some of the dishes it is a main attraction.

The sambar with mix vegetable uttapams — thick pancakes topped with onion, tomato, chilli and peas — tasted delicious. The uttapam was perfectly cooked.

I ended my gastronomic adventure with suji ka halwa, a dish prepared from bright orange semolina. The halwa had a rich texture as it was prepared in cow ghee with few dash of almonds and cashew. It was the perfect end to the purely vegetarian and authentically Indian food expedition.

Masala dosa with bhaji spread • Photo by Pinky Gupta

Dosa House is located in 15259 Bel-Red Rd, Bellevue, WA 98007.

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