Food & Drink

Do try the dosai

David Sweety at his new restaurant, Gandhi’s Village, at 113 Mann Avenue. The restaurant which specializes in South Indian cuisine has been open since the first week of October. Mr. Sweety is very keen on the Sandy Hill neighbourhood and looks forward to cooking healthy food for us. Photo Jan Meldrum

Paula Kelsall

David Sweety’s dosai are fantastic. If you have not tried this crisp, light crepe made with ground rice and lentils and wrapped around a savoury filling, you can’t go wrong by checking out the ones on offer at Gandhi’s Village, the South Indian restaurant that opened on Mann Avenue this fall.

At other restaurants I have only seen the classic version of this dish, masala dosai, which contains a filling made with diced potatoes cooked to a deeply satisfying softness with mustard seeds and other spices. Chef Sweety’s masala dosai are very, very good. But the Gandhi’s Village menu also offers several other fillings and I hope to try them all. So far we have checked out the Hyderabad dosai, which is made with green gram lentils and is supposed to be extra-nutritious, and the Kerala Shrimp dosai. Both were delicious.

The curries we have sampled on our visits to Gandhi’s Village have also been excellent, and there is an extensive selection of vegetarian choices as well as meat and seafood. The Palak Paneer is an unusually fragrant take on the classic spinach and cheese dish. The spinach is pureed to a smooth sauce, and the chunks of cheese are satisfyingly chewy. Chicken Chettinadu, cooked with onions, tomatoes, coconut and a wealth of seasonings, got an enthusiastic endorsement from a fellow diner, and Shrimp Konkan came in a creamy coconut milk-based sauce that was perfect for mopping up with the flatbreads called parathas. And those parathas! Tender, chewy, slightly sweet and piping hot, they are not to be missed.

The food at this restaurant is well worth checking out, but the dining experience does include some frustrations. Chef Sweety runs a one-man business with occasional help. He cooks from scratch, and on the two evenings I visited he was having trouble filling orders promptly. Dinner with appetizers and a main course took three hours on our first visit. On the second, we went in early to pre-order and only asked for entrees and parathas, but we were still there for two hours.

Everyone who visits clearly wants to see this restaurant thrive. It’s not often you find yourself falling into conversation with the diners at the next table about how the owner could organize his business. Perhaps a smaller menu, with just a few regular offerings and a couple of daily specials? Maybe if he had some soup ready to give to all his guests to stave off hunger pangs?

My advice to the reader is to try this restaurant out as soon as possible. Go at lunchtime, or on an evening when you aren’t pressed for time. Bring a good book, or go with friends you’ve been wanting to catch up with. If the neighbourhood can keep Gandhi’s Village going until the restaurant finds its groove, we will have a gem in our collection of local eateries. And I do want to have time to try all the dosai!

Gandhi’s Village is at 113 Mann Avenue. It’s open daily for dinner, and for lunch on Tuesday through Sunday. It’s probably a good idea to call 613-569-2121 or pop by to check about exact hours, which still seem to be evolving.