Dosas and a Cup of Chai

If you are among the un-lucky millions without AC in your apartment or an office building to retreat to, if the haze is getting you down, here is my 4-step secret to surviving the occasional summer heat wave.

Step 1: Download Passion Pit’s album “Manners”
Step 2: Get your ass on the train.
Step 3: Find a safe haven in Madras Café.
Step 4: Sit in the AC’d window, sipping a large cup of sweet and spicy Chai, listening to enthusiastic blasts of “Little Secrets” until your mind has cleared!

Located on 2nd Ave. and E. 4th St., Madras Café makes their food with a prayer that  “all people eat well and in peace, no matter what they believe.”  So dope.    This South Indian veg spot is as authentic as you can get.  (My ex’s mother is from Chennai, and I can attest to the fact that Madras Café is one of the few spots in NY that can rival her homemade dosas and lentil soups.) Oh and if you are the first to scoff at a vegetarian meal, Madras will change your mind and have you crawling back for more!

The large Chai ($2.95) is well worth suffering the heat of the subway platform, but if you are craving something more substantial, make sure to ask your waiter for his suggestions.  Don’t be afraid to ask for extra spice.  Trust the Indian saying, “First bite it hurts and you cry, second bite doesn’t hurt, third bite it’s the tastiest dish you ever had!”  Try the Spicy Masala Dosai ($8.95), a rice & lentil flour crepe served with sambar & coconut chutney, the Kofta Curry ($9.95), savory vegetable dumplings simmered in a mild buttery tomato sauce, and the Lunch Special ($7.95) Noon – 3pm, M-F.

For a cheaper dosa option, go to the N.Y. Dosas cart on Washington Square South and Sullivan Street.  Thiru “Dosa Man” Kumar of Sri Lanka was the well-deserving Vendy Award winner in 2007.  You’ll have to fight your way thought the line of hungry customers, but you can get the Pondicherry Masala Dosa (stuffed with potatoes, carrots, and peppers) with coconut chutney and spicy lentil soup for an easy $6!  Enjoy the bums, babes, and blues in the park while you savor lunch.

And if you are looking for a modern take, try one of the Hampton Chutney Company’s three locations in SoHo, the Upper West Side and Amagansett.  My favorite is Dosa #5 – Avocado, Fresh Tomato, Arugula, & Cheese – with the famous Cilantro or Curry Chutney ($8.95).  Here you can even get your Chai Iced to go ($3.50).

Pictures via A Cup of Chai and Dan Fimm

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About the author

Danielle Levanas - Bargain Soul Huntress

Danielle was raised by a pack of coyotes in the Los Angeles hills. Since arriving in NY in 2001, she has had any number of strange jobs, including back-up singing for JELVIS (the Jewish Elvis), starting the non-profit LYDIA, and writing political cabarets. A huge advocate for travel as a way of life, you can find her at the Brooklyn Public Library when her bank account is empty, fantasizing about where to head off to next.
  • Heather

    Sounds delicious! I gotta get me an iced chai soon.

  • Danielle

    The ones we had today were good, but not amazing like the iced chai at Hampton Chutney! soon.