A Dose of Dosa at Philadelphia Chutney Company
Philadelphia Chutney Company
1628 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
The soft sound of Bollywood music was the first thing I noticed as I entered Philadelphia Chutney Company. A color scheme of orange, green, and blue decorated the 30-seat restaurant, their menu written clearly in chalk above the counter. Everything on the menu piqued my interest, but I settled for the Classic Masala Dosa and 2 pieces of Samosa.
The Samosa was accompanied by a tamarind sauce and the contrast between the hot, crispy Samosa and the cold, fresh sauce made for a perfect appetizer. The Dosa, a classic South-Indian dish, was served with a bowl of Sambar and two types of chutney; one mango and one coconut. The Sambar, a lentil and vegetable stew, was piping hot and had just the right amount of spices. Having had experiences with terrible Dosa I hesitantly took my first bite… and was thoroughly pleased! The Dosa shell was perfectly crispy and the filling was well flavored. I favored the coconut chutney as it was fresh and spicy. The mango chutney was too sweet for my tastes.
The restaurant only had one employee outside the kitchen; he took orders and served the food. Once you completed your order, you were expected to take utensils and water to your own table, both of which were placed on a table opposite the counter. The food took less than 10 minutes to receive but was still hot and crispy. There wasn’t much decor and the furniture was all plastic but it suited the price and style of the food. The quality made up for the lack of service.
The Story behind the Philadelphia Chutney Company is one that speaks directly to the restaurant’s authenticity and its dedication to serving quality Indian food. The co-owners, Ricky, Rajiv and Lov Singh are cousins, and moved to the United States four years ago (from India). They expressed how difficult it was to get customers initially, how they had to figure out their likes, dislikes and ultimately cater the food to the customer’s tastes.
Although the food wasn’t as spicy as Indian dishes prepared in India, it was still authentic. Lov, the chef, mentioned having daily specials in addition to the regular items on the menu depending on availability of ingredients in the market.
While I ate, I watched Rajiv explain the dishes in fine detail to any customers that had questions, often recommending classic Indian dishes. Rajiv explained what every item on the menu tasted like, mentioning how spicy the dish would be. Learning that the the owners ran their restaurant made the entire experience more authentic.
Ricky says “just be honest and work hard” is the motto of the three cousins. Now, four years later, they plan on opening their second location on the top and bottom floors of an Indian grocery store. Their story of success is inspiring.
With delicious Dosas rarely on the menu at an Indian restaurant, Philadelphia Chutney Company will most definitely stay on my list of places to return to and I would recommend it to anyone hoping to experience good South Indian Cuisine. There are many Indian restaurants in Philadelphia, but it can be difficult to find restaurants that have a varied menu that offers more options than just naan and curry. Philadelphia Chutney Company, however, is distinct because its food selection is both authentic and wide-ranging.
I will most likely visit again, this time, opting to order one of their drinks; either the Lassi, a classic fruit and yoghurt drink or the Masala Chai, a spiced Indian milk tea. The food was well worth its price and the ambience of the restaurant was nice and relaxed. Since it is cafe style and not a full service restaurant, the self-service style was perfectly appropriate. The plastic green chairs accompanied by the subtle smell of Indian food and classic Bollywood music has gained Philadelphia Chutney Company a permanent place on my list of perfect lunch spots in Philadelphia.