Edible Vancouver Island January/February 2024

VANCOUVER ISLAND'S TASTE OF SOUTH INDIA In India, the best restaurants are found in the most unassuming of places, and Victoria’s Dosa Paragon is no exception. They have two locations: one is nestled between a men's clothing store and a hair salon in a strip mall and offers an exclusively plant-based menu, while their Wharf Street location serves idlis, vadas, uttapams and enough dosa variations to cater to both carnivore and vegan alike. At the Hudson Market, hidden gem Cafe Malabar serves idlis and Gun Powder Masala Dosa, a cult favourite sprinkled with podi, a powdered mix of spice and sesame. At Southern Flavours, in addition to the traditional offerings, you can try the Masala Tiffin and sample a little bit of everything that makes up the South Indian table. They also serve arguably the most iconic dosa, the Mysore Masala: named for a city in the state of Karnataka, it is a choice for only the most battle-tested tongue. Made with a paste of nearly pure chili, even the accompanying coconut chutney may not be enough to douse the flames. In Nanaimo, Heritage Indian Cuisine serves South Indian specials from noon until close, including sada dosa. Sada, which means "plain," comes without any of the usual spiced stuffings, so those who want to try the unique flavour of dosa without the after-burn need not be deterred. TAKING ITS PLACE ON THE WORLD'S CULINARY STAGE Back on the train, groggily peeking beyond the vinyl curtains of my cabin, I see half-awake, but hungry, foreign travellers digging into their breakfasts as waiters bustle through the car, karchi in one hand and pot of sambar in another, ready to ladle it onto plates—whether diners ask for it or not. I can tell the locals from the tourists easily, because most Indians wouldn’t dare to eat on these common transport trains, instead opting for a tiffin from home. I want to tell them that train food is best consumed on high-end luxury locomotives, not on the hundreds of interstate routes that criss-cross India, where train food isn’t exactly food safe–though I doubt that would deter the tourists; the scent wafting from car to car is simply too tempting. Until recently, India’s global food profile has been largely based on culinary hearsay, with the food of twenty-eight states and eight union territories being represented on the world’s stage solely by North Indian food. But that is slowly changing as the long overshadowed flavours and diversity of South Indian food come into the spotlight. Especially for vegetarians, vegans and reducetarians, these dishes pack a punch with a trifecta of flavour, nutrition and probiotics.

Well, that is what 253 million of my closest South Indian friends think, anyway.

Meg Sequeira came to B.C. from her hometown of Dubai, UAE, and never left. When she isn't thinking about or talking about eating, you can find her with her Happy Accident Pottery at craft markets around Victoria, or writing at strangeandforeign.ca.


Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs