Dosa with hand-made chutneys
Cafe Madras provides a refreshingly different Indian dining experience. Forget your regular onion bhajis, naan breads and other anglicised favourites, this is a more authentic kind of Indian cooking.
Located on City Road in Cathays, this is a small restaurant, offering specialist south Indian cuisine, with a huge variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Friendly and helpful
The waiter was friendly and extremely patient as we tried to work out what to order. We delayed the decision by ordering mango lassis, which may have become my new favourite drink! These were thick, almost like a mango smoothy, presented in elegant, tall glasses. The restaurant doesn’t have an alcohol licence, but the staff are quite happy for you to pop across the road to Tescos and bring your own beer.
When it came to the starter, I decided to try something completely different and went for Aloo Papadi Chat. These were mini pastry shells topped with yoghurt and tamarind. The flavours were subtle and the cooling yoghurt balanced the spicy tamarind.
My friends went for rasam (lentil soup), masala vada (deep fried lentil patties) and gobi manchurian (battered cauliflower sautéed in chilli sauce), all of which looked delicious.
After much deliberation, I went for ghee roast dosa with potato masala for the main course. Dosa is like a think, crispy pancake, made with rice and lentils. Again, the presentation was very impressive. The dosas were served on large, rectangular silver platters, with small dishes of home-made chutney.
The dosa might have been a bit dry on its own, but went well with the potato masala. My friend tried the ghee podi dosa, which was intriguingly described as “crispy dosa topped with spicy gun powder and ghee.” We mused over what spicy gun powder could possibly be, and when it arrived, we concluded it tasted a lot like Wotsits..!
Relaxed and informal
On the whole, we had a very enjoyable evening. The restaurant had a relaxed, informal atmosphere and the waiters were all keen to explain the dishes and make recommendations. The food was delicious and made a welcome change from the regular Indian dishes that have become accepted in Britain.
Photo: Magda Wojtyra