Saturday, 28 November 2009

India (Tamil Nadu)

Chennai Dosa
3 Ealing Road
020 8782 8822

I'll be straight with you. We were in Wembley for drugs. The drug we were looking for is perfectly legal. It's called qat, a leaf containing an amphetamine-like substance called cathinone. People chew it in failed states such as Somalia and Yemen.

We asked every Somali we could find where we could buy it, and were lucky not to get beaten up for racial profiling. A shopkeeper told us the address of a butcher that sold cat meat (meow!), the second sent us up a stairwell into a scary man's living room, and the third sent us to the far end of a back alley where we got sensibly nervous and ran away.

But I was more interested in the dosas than the drugs. I'd combed Wembley on Street View to find a dealer, and when I spotted Chennai Dosa on the corner of the street I went to its website, downloaded the PDF of its menu, printed it when everybody had left the office, and clogged the printer up with drool. As befits a place with a £4.99 dinner buffet, the decor is pretty much non-existent, although we did find seats under a poster celebrating the restaurant's family dosa - all six insane feet of it.

We started with vadai (£0.30 each!), the wonderfully spicy lentil and potato doughnuts eaten on Indian railways. Four puffy parcels of idly (rice and lentil cakes) came with sambar (lentil dal) and coconut chutney, while my friend's masala dosa, with its spicy symphony of potatoes and onion, was a stunner. My green chilli coriander dosa was so disappointing - no stuffing, just a sprinkling of coriander and a few chillies. I started craving drugs again.

We found our qat, by the way. A fiver a bunch. From a little shop in the Edgware Road underpass you'd never find unless you knew to look for it. The stuff tastes hideous. But give it three hours and it'll work. It'll work wonders.

Chennai Dosa Pure Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

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