Masala dosa nign3j


Too big for the plate. Too big for the camera frame. Too big for your appetite? You decide.

 

Image: Megha Tejpal

Maybe I have lived in Texas so long or maybe my eyes are indeed bigger than my stomach, but I have simply gotten used to the fact that jumbo-sized foods are the new normal. Everything is bigger in Texas right? Right.

But there's big, and then there's too big for your plate. And let's face it, sometimes we crave exactly such an extreme meal.

In the way of these extreme eats, there seems to be an overabundance of carnivorous options—whether it's over-the-top cheeseburgers or barbecued pork belly—but where are the vegetarian-friendly choices? After all, our vegetarian friends have extreme appetites too...maybe even more so than us non-vegetarians after day-in and day-out of vegetables, potatoes, lentils and quinoa. Being both Indian and having some past experience with the vegetarian lifestyle, I have just the dish for those days when you're craving extreme eats of the veggie persuasion.

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The spicy pav bhaaji is served with buttery burger buns and raw red onions.

Image: Megha Tejpal

You may have seen or heard of a dosa before; it's the South Indian dish that appears almost identical to the fancy French crepe. The golden exterior is thin and crispy while the inside is stuffed with a warm, savory filling.

In the case of the masala dosa at Shiv Sagar, one of the most extreme Texas-sized varieties I have seen in Houston, the filling is made up of spiced potatoes and served with cool coconut chutney and piping hot saambar (a traditional South Indian soup to dip your dosa in). Folded into a giant, misshapen triangle, the masala dosa is much too large for the plate and barely fits at the table, especially if you've ordered any other dishes. While dosas are generally known to be large, the monster at Shiv Sagar will satisfy even the hungriest of eaters.

The extra-shareable masala dosa can serve as a family-style option for the table as many of Shiv Sagar's additional menu items are worth trying. The all-vegetarian menu includes traditional South Indian dishes like samosa chaat, a spicy samosa topped with yogurt, spices and chutney, and the insanely delicious pav bhaaji, an indulgent tomato-based mixed vegetable dish served with two buttery burger buns and raw red onions. It may sound strange, but the proof is in the pav bhaaji my friends, and Shiv Sagar does not disappoint.

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One of the many varieties of chaat on the menu at Shiv Sagar.

Image: Megha Tejpal

As is often the case with Indian food, some of the dishes can be on the spicy side so you will find a variety of authentic beverage choices to choose from which compliment the food. Look for sweet or salty lassi, a rich, creamy beverage made with yogurt and seasoned to your preference, as well as mango milkshakes, popular either with your meal or as an after-dinner treat.

Like many of the authentic Indian eateries along Hillcroft and Harwin in the Mahatma Gandhi District, Shiv Sagar is a casual joint often packed with locals dropping in for a bite. Menu items range from $3 to $8 each and are almost all shareable plates. The vibe is upbeat, loud and typical of a fast-food restaurant in India, making it as authentic of an experience as you can get in Houston—I can vouch for that. While vegetarian cuisine has long been a way of life among North and South Indians, and the extreme Texas-sized masala dosa may seem normal to some India to Houston transplants, I encourage my fellow Houstonians to check it out and see if they can finish it in one sitting. As for me, nama-stay with a regular sized dosa for now.

Shiv Sagar, 6662 Southwest Fwy., 713-977-0150

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