>> Podi Dosa | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday, 5 November 2021

Podi Dosa

INDIA 🇮🇳
Pioneer Blvd. facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: The restaurant is open for indoor dining and operating pretty normally. Staff are wearing masks.

In general when you find a place that receives such a large group of one star reviews but absolutely none of these selfish Yelpers say anything bad about the food, it is safe to say that the restaurant will be delicious. Sometimes you can either relax your service expectations, leave a little more time than normal, or otherwise adjust your attitude. Weirdly most of this is actually unnecessary at Podi Dosa, a strip mall eatery on Pioneer Blvd. that is generally friendly and relatively efficient despite the views of some.

At certain times of day and especially on weekends, once you pass the waterfall at the door you will find most or all of the tables full and even a waiting list to put your name down. Many of the tables are six people or more, families and groups of friends love sharing meals here and usually have a lot more in front of them than dosas. This is because when you sit down you will find a full six menus, in addition to the dosa menu, desserts, and drinks, there is a full biryani menu, Indian-Chinese, and what they call the masala menu, which features an array of dishes from more standard fare to Keralan specialties.

Street spicy podi dosa with chutneys

On the dosa menu it is hard to resist the namesake offering of the restaurant, of which there is also an explanation of what podi entails. This "stuffed" dosa is available in two formats, plain and the street spicy podi dosa ($13.99, above and below), which is indeed packing a lot of heat. Podi is a complex spice powder mixture often served with idli or dosas, the menu here lists a full nineteen ingredients used in their house special podi.

This dosa has the podi pre-mixed into its contents and bursts with flavor in every bite. The wrapper's edges seem to shatter even before you touch them, so crispy and thin yet with a soft underbelly on the thicker parts.

Street spicy podi dosa

Possibly more important is the arrival of a four-component presentation of chutneys, all served in large bowls and ready to scoop onto plates. All four are top rate and seem to be almost universally beloved including an onion chutney, peanut chutney, coconut chutney, and a sticky sweet and spicy chutney. On top of that, a small metal bowl of sambar (below), a lentil-based broth full of flavor and wonderful for dipping.

The wait can be a bit too much for some customers who enjoy talking about themselves on Yelp, so bring people you care about and come prepared as the food is so worth the time it takes to prepare. When orders are ready the bell rings from the kitchen. Instead of the one pleasant ding you are familiar with at diners, the chef in the back goes after that bell with the fury of someone at a motel who has a clogged toilet.


Four compartment chutney dish served with dosas

On a follow-up visit a plain dosa (9.99, above) was ordered to make sure the array of chutneys came again. Even this "plain" version is massive and stretches off each end of the plate, more than enough for a group of four to share and each get plenty.

This visit was meant to get into the other menus and South Indian dishes though, since it seemed that under 50% of the customers were eating dosas during that first meal. It would be quite the feat for the kitchen to be skilled in all of these, but so far everything has impressed.

Chicken 65 (dry)

The Chennai-born favorite chicken 65 ($13.99, above) is available and popped off the menu. It gets its color and taste from the abundance of red chilies used in its preparation, but all in all is one of the milder dishes served here although where "mild" lives at this restaurant is well beyond the norm. Chicken 65 can be served with bone-in chunks but this version is boneless and unbelievably juicy.

Since biryani gets its own menu, at least one of the many different styles they serve here had to be enjoyed. Under the "house special" section, the Andhra mirchi biryani ($14.99, below) is made with the large peppers in the style of Andhra Pradesh. These spicy vegetables are not de-seeded and stuffed with more spicy and nutty gravy.

Andhra mirchi biryani

Close view of andhra mirchi (pepper) in the biryani

A cooling cup of yogurt is served alongside the biryani but many will find it is too little too late to take on the intense heats. It is all for a good cause though, as the biryani is delicious and worth finishing. Take the leftovers home to finish the next day and you will find it to be even spicier.

While much of the south of India are vegetarian-only diets, the coastal state of Andhra Pradesh also has a culture that revolves around fishing. The Andhra fish curry ($18.99, below) is another delicious dish and probably won the award for spiciest. Thankfully it comes served with a decent helping of basmati, which helps tone it down just a bit.

Andhra fish curry

The tomato and chili-based curry is also good for dipping pieces of dosa and medu vada ($8.50, below), a "soft" fritter made in the shape of donuts. The texture of these done perfectly, and bites can also be used to dampen the effects of spice.

Another good way to calm the taste buds is with the long beer list that includes many Indian varieties. These are served in larger format bottles and opened at the table, a process that is reminiscent of what happens with beer in India and brings a smile from memories.

Three pieces of medu vada

📍 17607 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia, Southeast Los Angeles

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