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South Indian Dosa Mahal

Posted by Devon Scoble / Listed on February 27, 2009 / review policy

When I lived at Bloor and Lansdowne, South Indian Dosa Mahal was my haven of wholesomeness in what is often an entirely unwholesome neighbourhood. Granted, Bloordale is on the up: with the opening of several new art galleries, and the anticipated opening of a new bar from the folks behind the Communist Daughter, this neighbourhood is undergoing a revitalization that is sure to make it the new Queen West, West Queen West, Ossington. Eventually. But while the hipsters are just arriving, this aberrant stretch of the usually upscale Bloor is still home to vast numbers of pimps, junkies and prostitutes; it sleeps fitfully amid their moans and screaming, a testament to enduring human suffering.

Despite the nightmares I used to suffer from the tortured cries piercing my window, I like this neighbourhood. Where else in Toronto can you find an evangelical church, Buddhist association, strip club and (awesome) bar all on the same corner? Prostration, meditation, titillation and libations: all can be found with ease. Not to mention South India Dosa Mahal, a great place to seek satiation with tasty sensations. And now that they've moved a little east to a much larger location, socialization is on the menu, too.

20090302-south-indian-prep.gifAt least quadruple its old capacity, the entire new interior has been splashed in Pepto-pink paint, draped in curtains of lemon-yellow, sea-blue, and tangerine-orange and bedecked with riots of fake flowers. The effect of all these plastic colours is so deliciously gaudy it negates the greys and grim realities outside.

Despite all this work, South Indian Dosa Mahal has maintained its old prices and friendly service. There may be pimping and whoring and screaming outside, but inside the owner hums a cheery tune while wiping pink tabletops, and her backpack-clad son rushes in for a hug on his way back from school.

As a food writer, I should probably try something different every time I return to a favoured restaurant, but there are some dishes so tasty I have to order them again and again, and South Indian Dosa Mahal's Vegetable Thali is one of them. Still, in honour of the new location, I decide it's time to switch things up a little. Instead of the Thali, I order the Vegetable Chappati special. It provides exactly the same main dishes, but in lieu of rice I get an extra chappati. See Bloordale: I can live on the edge, too!

20090302-south-indian-dosa-.gifFor $6.99, I receive a massive stainless steel plate heaped with chewy chappatis, crisp pappadum, and an impressive array of sides. Creamy potato curry provides delicious simplicity against a rich backdrop of velvety eggplant curry, while earthy chick peas complement fennel and green beans in the mixed vegetable curry. On the side, tangy coriander spiked raita is perfectly tart, while sambar is lemony high notes and daal curry is deep and spicy. My favourite part is the tiny serving of spicy pickled carrot. It always reminds of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, where chutneys and pickles are flavoured by the emotions of their makers. Maybe it's the neighbourhood, but this pickle, a tart, spicy zap of endorphins, is an instant contact high. I want to run outside and scream: "Put down your methamphetamine and try this pickle instead! This is real bliss!" But I don't. I stay inside, as I always do, cocooning in this pink haven, relishing the blend of flavours before me, and hoping for a day when carrot pickle will be enough to satisfy all our deepest darkest cravings. Because for me, for today, it is.

20090302-south-indian-chair.gifSouth Indian Dosa Mahal is now open for Sunday dinner buffet: $6.95 for kids (13 and under), $9.95 for adults, 5:00-10:00.



savariappan / December 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm
verry good look
Paul / January 26, 2009 at 07:32 pm
FYI - the restaurant recently moved to a larger space a block east of its previous location.
Vic / May 25, 2009 at 11:12 am
The food is delicious, and the family that runs the place are super-friendly. We love going there.

The neighbourhood isn't nearly as bad as what this article seems to make of it though.
denise / June 20, 2009 at 07:15 pm
true about the neighbourhood - it's not that bad - and true about the lovely family. so nice!

i had the potato roti for the first time today and it was so cheap ($1) and amazing.
Sheena / July 28, 2009 at 07:14 pm
The family is honest and loving and their food is made with honest love and care. It's delicious and underpriced. Anyone who has never had masala dosa should treat themselves right away! go! now!
shangeetha / April 11, 2010 at 01:03 am
i went to South Indian DOsa Mahal REstaurant yesturday!

everytime i go it is exseptional and crasy busy ...wow!!! .

they are famous all around toronto and actuallly nation wide.
some of my friends went along side with me and we so far tried amlost everything on the menu.
their dosas are so beautiful and HUGE! not oily at all with your choice of meats of vegies.
our table had their house specials

spinach and veggie masala dosa only $7.95
chicken thali $8.50
beef kothu rotti $6.95
veggie briyani meal $7.95
mysore masala dosa $7.95
and the goat paratha meal $8.50

i know this all sounds froeign to mot people, and trust me i thought so too, (me growing up in toronto)
but you have to try everything!

they also have really nice juices and lussies all fresh
i hear they do a sunday buffet for $11.95 and its all you can eaat..mm mm mm i cant wait for next week!

last week i got their special catering order ...only $96.05
chutneys, samosas,pakoras,omg need i say more!!!!!

this is a family running bussiness...naomi is exceptionally amazing with a very nice smile...bonus:)
and her husband making most dishes, except for her famous veggies of the day..is truely an amazing chef..

go and try for yourself!!!
you will crap like i do..
alll i know is that i am going to be broke by the end of the month:(
but my tuimmy will be full=D

taralyn / May 14, 2010 at 09:13 am
The samosas here are life changing. LIFE CHANGING!!
Adam / September 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm
shangeetha- will it be a stinky pink?
N / May 17, 2011 at 05:02 am
AMAZING AMAZING!! the food is amazing, and cheap, and the staff is incredibly friendly!
Mich / August 12, 2011 at 08:47 pm
My boyfriend and I just moved to there area and were craving Indian so we checked this place out. AMAZING!! The flavours were complex and intense. Good variety on the plates. Will definitely be going back!!!!
Devine Power / November 13, 2011 at 06:56 pm
Looks good!
I want to have Dosa after long time.
Business/Economy / November 22, 2011 at 07:48 am
I like indian dis in indian dis i like idali and dosa i would like it to have it.
Erica / November 24, 2011 at 12:13 pm
Hi, I don't know if they were just having an off day, but I went earlier this month (November 2011) and found the food really disappointing. I was expecting zero ambiance, but based on this review had high hopes for the food - which were not met. Not going back
Zoe / April 3, 2012 at 11:27 pm
What a great place. I am so lucky it's on my way home.
star / May 3, 2012 at 02:33 pm
tasty food, quick service and good prices. try it!
phlox / July 28, 2012 at 07:43 pm
Oh, I love the Dosa; it's worth dipping in to get three incredible samosas for a dollar (thick crispiness surrounding a pasty potato perfection) when you're in the area.

In fact, I think it should be an indispensable part of the Blansdowne tour - go drop off your unwanted things at the 33349342 thrift and consignment stores (and pick up much more), check out the art galleries, and then go to Dosa for some lassi and ridiculously underpriced goodies. Aww yeah.
Rachel / September 10, 2014 at 02:48 pm
I've heard wonderful things about this place and have gotten take out samosas several time. Today I took my boyfriend for lunch and after he ordered, the owner informed me I would to be able to be in the store dressed the way I was. In black moderate shorts and a black button up sweater, white tshirt. By no means risky. I was truly offended. I left. I'll never eat there again, and will 100% persuade others to boycott this place after the disrespect I was treated with.
Rachel / September 10, 2014 at 02:50 pm
Would not*
Maureen replying to a comment from Rachel / September 10, 2014 at 03:05 pm
Aw, if that rudeness was done to us we would have mooned him on the way out, but no twerking, that would give him a heart attack.

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