We had hankerings for a Masala Dosa and since the demise of the Aotea Markets it’s hard to find a really good one. We had it on good authority that Spice Traders in Manukau did one of the biggest in town so we thought we’d check it out since we need a few more places out South in the database.
For those who’ve never had one, a Masala Dosa is a South Indian speciality. It’s a super-thin pancake made from rice and lentil flour and it’s stuffed with spicy potato filling and served with coconut chutney, sambar and chilli. Spice Traders had them as well as a wide range of other indian dishes.
The interior was actually quite nice but as it’s on the outside of the Manukau Westfield mall, the big open windows destroy any intimate feel. Anyway, we weren’t there for the atmosphere so on to the food.
The Masala Dosa ($10) was enormous, and took up half our table (I’m not joking). The filling was good but not terribly spicy. I prefer it that way so you can add spice as you wish. The pancake itself was tasty but not as good as some I’ve tasted around town. Slightly too crispy for my liking. Didn’t stop us destroying the whole thing though and I’d definitely have it again so can’t have been that bad. I just think the Dosa stall at Aotea Markets has ruined me forever.
The Tomato and Onion Uttapam ($10) was fabulous. I know restaurants who describe these as indian pizzas and while they do look similar, the taste is quite different. It’s a rice pancake (much thicker than a dosa) and it’s covered in tomato, fried onions and fresh coriander and served with the same accompaniments: coconut chutney, sambar and chilli. The freshness of the coriander and tomato is perfect against the fried onion and pancake base and when dipped in the sambar it’s divine. It was big too and we ate it all despite feeling entirely full already.
We also tried the Goan Fish Curry ($18). It came with rice and was very tasty with coconut to balance the spices. The fish was good, firm and very fresh too. We had to laugh as I am Indian and my husband is a European New Zealander and I’m sure wait staff never believe he can eat hotter than me. We ordered it mild to medium (in ‘Indian hot’ terms that would still have a good kick) but it came out ‘kiwi hot’ and a bit too mild for us. The flavours were delicate and it still tasted great but you can be liberal with spice when you order as they mean what they say by mild, medium and hot. Our bad, not theirs. They were telling the truth. It was us making the assumptions.
We would definitely go back. There’s a big menu of entrees, dry dishes, curries (meat, fish and vegetarian) and South Indian specialities. Definitely something for all tastes and great value for money.