Palace of Dosas
Palace of Dosas serves Southern Indian cuisine, in a casual and welcoming atmosphere. The menu is completely vegetarian, but please don’t let that scare you! I truly believe that many meat lovers would find the food satisfying, filling and hearty. I’ve eaten there with meat lovers who tell me: “I didn’t miss the meat.” or “I didn’t even notice I wasn’t eating meat at this meal.” Coriander. Cumin. Cardamom. Cloves. Malabar leaves. Nutmeg. Star anise. Curry. And more. Indian spices combined with fresh ingredients, including every vegetable you love, coconut milk, yogurt and garlic, have a special way of bringing out amazing flavors you didn’t even know existed.
For our appetizers, we started with the Assorted Appetizers, which included Iddly, Vadai, Alu Bonda, Mix Bajji and Pakoda. All of this is served with two complements: coconut chutney and sambar. The coconut chutney makes a wonderful dipping sauce. Theirs is creamy, moist and mild spiced. (I have had spicier from other Indian restaurants.) The sambar is a delicious vegetable soup, very popular in Southern Indian cuisine and commonly served on the side of meals. While hearty because of its mixed vegetable contents, it has a light, clear broth. Their version seemed tomato-based.
- The Iddly is a savory moist, bread-like snack made from fermented lentils and rice. If I didn’t look this up after first eating there, I would never guess that’s what it’s made of, but I did pick up on the slightly sour taste. It’s yummy to dip in chutney and sambar, as are all the appetizers.
- Vadai is a fritter-type snack, commonly made from dal, lentil, gram (chickpea) flour and/or potato. I really enjoy these — they remind me of an Italian potato fritter, minus and plus a couple spices!
- Alu Bonda are fried potato ball fritters, which are slightly greasy in the best way and taste as delicious as they sound.
- Mix Bajji is an assortment of vegetables, dipped in chickpea batter and fried. We had onion and eggplant bajji, among others. The onion bajji, like tiny haystacks, are a delicious crunch of salty and sweet onion goodness. If you like onion rings, these are a must.
- Pakoda, similar to bajji, is onions and spinach dipped in chickpea batter and fried.
Next, we had Poori & Masala, which is deep fried puffed bread served with spiced mashed potatoes. “Spiced mashed potatoes” is not a just description of the flavorful little dish. It is a rich and heavy little dish of vegetable and spice filled mashed potatoes and bread, which could easily become a lunch on their own for one person. The bread has a very mild flavor, is slightly oily (on purpose), and is a lovely vehicle for transporting your food to your mouth.
Our entrees were Vegetable Koorma, Channa Palak and Paneer Tikka Masala. Each came with a side of aromatic, nutty tasting Basmati rice.
- The Vegetable Koorma is mixed vegetables cooked with nuts, ginger, garlic, spices and coconut milk. What a harmonious symphony of nuts, ginger, garlic and spices. At one point, I bit into a whole little nugget of ginger, but it was perfectly full of flavor from the koorma and entirely welcome.
- The Channa Palak, chickpeas and spinach cooked with mild spices, is one of the best Indian dishes I’ve ever had. It’s so simple, but has so many layers of flavor. I love that the mild chickpeas are doused in a spicy, creamy blanket created by the spinach and sauce.
- Paneer Tikka Masala is homemade Indian cheese (cut into little bite size pieces), cooked with mild spices in a zesty masala comprised of tomatoes, onions, garlic and spices. Paneer is often compared to cottage cheese, but I find this misleading. It’s a light and creamy cheese, but solid. That can sound confusing, I know. If you could imagine a piece of cottage cheese, but the size of a large dice, then that is the only way I could think of comparing it to cottage cheese. Theirs is spongy and reminded me of roasted tofu more than paneer. I love the dish, but it doesn’t beat India Gate/Taste of India‘s version. They hold the key to my heart on all things paneer.
For dessert, we ordered something new — Carrot Halwa, which is a sundae dish filled with grated carrots cooked in honey and butter, with bits of nuts and golden raisins throughout. This was definitely reminiscent of carrot cake and I went as far as to call it deconstructed carrot cake, a la Top Chef. If it had a dollop of sugar laced cream cheese that could pass for icing or frosting, it could be served up at the Judges’ Table. If you like carrots or carrot cake, give it a try. I wouldn’t order it again because I have other favorites (Badam Halwa or Gulab Guman) that beat it, but I’m glad I experienced it.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the cuisine at Palace of Dosas is that everything tastes incredibly fresh, yet has deep, established flavors. They work magic with their spices. I think most inexperienced Indian diners would look at a recipe and never believe that such a short list of ingredients converts to a flavor-packed masterpiece. I know I was surprised at first, but enlightened when I purchased my first bag of real garam masala. I blended it in my spice grinder and wow, there it was! The secret is in the spices!
On top of the delicious food, the service is always friendly and you can observe a steady stream of regulars coming in to dine throughout your meal. The owners and wait staff treat you in a way that begs you to be comfortable dining in their home. I always enjoy a restaurant that makes me feel like that. Don’t go there if you’re in a hurry, since it’s not the kind of place — or food — that’s meant for eating in a rush. Oh, and did I mention it’s reasonable? Three or four can feast on every course for $50 total.
Palace of Dosas
656 Millersport Hwy.
Amherst, NY 14226