The only thing that looks promising about Naryan’s is the queue. Otherwise the cheap plastic sign at the front is so faded so you can no longer read the word ‘dosa’ and my eyes involuntarily spasm on reading the words ‘snax’ and ‘coldring’. Judging by the food splattered on the wall, the hygiene is also questionable. It has all the markings of either a great place, where all they care about is the food, or one which will make me horribly ill.
At the helm there are two men are making dosas on blackened upside-down firey tin cans. There is seating but you have to ask them to stop what they’re doing so that you can squeeze past to the back where three small marble topped tables await. Betwixt pouring the batter and dextrously shaping it into giant moons using steel spatulas, they happily step aside although the corridor is so narrow that my t-shirt cleans the wall.
Dosas are a South Indian snack made with fermented lentil and rice batter, cooked into wafer thin crispy rounds which are a rage all over India. The fermentation gives them the sort of sour tang which gives rise to cravings in the middle of the night and are laced with a myriad of toppings, as far as the Indian imagination goes.
At Naryan they have the classic, a butter dosa as well as twenty-five other options of either dry ‘sada’ dosas with a sniff of chutney, cheese or spices or ‘masala dosas’, which are expertly wrapped around a savoury filling. They are on average just 50p each meaning you could order one of each and still end up paying less than the price of an average main meal in London.
We order a mix, a butter, one of the Chindian (Chinese Indian) called ‘Schezwan’ but out of habit rather than authenticity, a palak (spinach) and a mysore sada. Within minutes stainless steel trays are brought to the table and unceremoniously dropped down so the accompanying fresh coconut and green chilli chutney starts to mushroom outwards rapidly threatening to make our dosas soggy. An inconceivable horror – so we eat them double quick tearing into the hot paper thin rolls. The crispiness gives way to the sour fermented tang which creeps up on our tastesbuds making our mouths juicy. We scoop and dip jagged pieces into the firey chutney softened by creamy coconut and wash it all down with coca cola then order another round. One is definitely not enough.
The mysore gets a wink and a nod, a perfect level of scoville spicery balanced with some sort of sweetness. The palak has a smear of paste which does not win the popular vote. The curve ball, Schezwan, is satisfying in the same way that food coated in sweet hot chilli sauce is but winner is the butter sada dosa. It is perfect. Plain, simple and eternally satisfying.
The queue grows even bigger outside. Mumbaikers are voting with their stomachs. Don’t come here for ambience or soft lighting, come for the food.
Address: Parmand Building, French Bridge, Grant Road, Mumbai
Cost: roughly 150 rupees (£1.50) each for two dosas and a drink