In this series, Seamless Warrior John Luong reviews meals ordered from the Internet.
One of the numerous pitfalls of loading the Wikipedia homepage is discovering holidays of such obscurity that not even natives of the locale celebrating the occasions are aware of their existence. Such was the case last week when I serendipitously discovered that it was Madras Day.
While that name could be misleading to those that summer in the Hamptons, it is not, in fact, the celebration of the eponymous fabric commonly utilized in the J. Crew summer line. Rather, it’s an event that commemorates of the modern founding of the South Indian city of Madras, now known as Chennai.
For this reason, it only seemed appropriate to consume foodstuffs indigenous to this land. And among the most prominent dishes of Chennai is the dosa, a crepe usually made of rice batter and lentils (though there are a few variations).
I placed my order at Minar for the Special Rava Mysore Masala Dosa, Keema Naan (unleavened flour bread stuffed with ground meat), and Cucumber Raita (yogurt sauce). The adjectives that preceded “dosa” in the item title pointed to several nuances: “rava” meant that the batter would be made of wheat flour, while “mysore masala” indicated that it would feature a potato stuffing and be served with a coconut chutney.
Upon the arrival of the order, I found that the dosa had been folded into a circular aluminum container and came with the aforementioned coconut chutney and as well as sambar, a light soupy vegetable sauce made with lentils, peppers, and carrots. The coconut chutney was viscous, gritty, and slightly salty. Due to the folding of the the dosa, it was a substantial challenge to cut through the asymmetrical layers of the crepe that housed the filling that consisted primarily of potatoes and onions. After some persistence, I freed a bit, and I found that both the coconut chutney and the sambar were welcome complements to the dosa, especially when balanced against the mild lingering heat provided by thinly sliced chili peppers, also inside.
The naan was warm and firm with ground meat distributed sparingly throughout and offered a pleasant tinge of spice. When paired with a dab of the Cucumber Raita, the cooling feel and smooth texture of the yogurt balanced gracefully against the bread.
The Morning After: As expected, the overnight refrigeration caused the dosa filling to become blockier and inseparable, with the potato becoming the dominant flavor as the chilis became muted. The naan became spongier and the ability of the spice to avail itself was diminished.
Repeatability: While dosas are a delicious–and comprise a less-explored branch of South Asian cuisine–they are better enjoyed sooner after preparation and in an uncompressed environment which is not possible given the constraints of delivery. The naan proved to be a much more robust candidate for transit.
Establishment: Minar Indian Restaurant, 5 West 31st Street, 212-684-2199
Hours/Limitations: $10 delivery minimum
Delivery Estimate: 20 to 35 minutes
Delivery Time: 38:22 minutes*
Distance: 0.7 miles; 5 min
Ordered at 3:05 p.m., rain
*Time is measured from confirmation page to entry to office suite.
**Distance and time estimate is based on biking via Google Maps.