Monday, 6 May 2013

My First Dosa at East & West Restaurant, Sheffield and a visit to Castleton

My parents came up to visit me over the bank holiday weekend for a belated birthday celebration. We spent the morning wandering round Sheffield city centre before going for lunch at East & West restaurant, followed by a walk in Castleton, afternoon tea and then back to mine for dinner. The sun was shining, the food delicious and the company couldn’t have been better. All in all a fabulous day.

East & West is a South Indian restaurant on Abbeydale road that apparently has been running for 5 years, but it has only just registered on my radar. They are famous for their dosa, which are huge, paper thin crispy pancakes made from rice and urid (lentil) flour. I have been watching Paul Hollywood’s Bread programme on tv and he did an episode on breads from different cultures, one of which was Indian dosa. I had never heard or seen a dosa before but the uniqueness of them and the fact they are naturally gluten free made me instantly long to try one for myself. I did a little googleling and discovered East & West restaurant that specialised in them. Until recently, they were in fact the only restaurant in Sheffield to offer dosa. Upon discovering this I immediately suggested to my parents we go there for lunch when they came to visit. Thankfully they too had been watching the bread programme and so were more than happy to accompany me.

The restaurant itself is tiny, with only 4 tables inside but we managed to get a table when we visited at lunch time. It’s quite a simple set up, but the aromas of food wafting out the kitchen were mouthwatering and it was clear everything was made fresh. The menu is made up of a few choices, with a variety of fillings or flavour varieties for each dish. It all seemed very authentic and included many dishes I have never even heard of before. However, we were on a dosa mission and all decided to order dosa.

While we waited for the food we were served our drinks. My father and I had mango lassi, while my mother chose mango juice. The lassi was delicious. Very thick and creamy from the yoghurt and nicely sweet without being sickly. The mango flavour was good too.

When our dosa’s arrived we were all very excited and impressed at the sheer size of them. They were longer than the trays they were served on! Dosa are cooked on a large flat griddle until crisp, when they are rolled around the filling of your choice and served with a selection of chutneys. I chose Masala Dosa, stuffed with a potato and onion curry mixture, while my parents both went for a Chicken Dosa, chicken and potato curry.

They filling is only in the very centre of the dosa, to ensure the rest of it remains crisp. You eat the dosa by breaking off pieces from an end, scooping up some of the filling and then dipping it into one of three chutneys – two were spicy and the third was like a cottage cheese. I love eating food with my fingers in this rustic fashion, and it made the process of eating really fun and interactive. The filling was only lightly spiced but two of three chutneys had quite a powerful kick that really pepped the dish up. Different flavours and levels of spice with each bite depending on the chutney chosen. It was delicious and surprisingly filling.

I found the dosa themselves quite salty, but the saltiness was calmed down when eaten with the filling and spiced chutneys. I loved how thin and crisp they were. The mango lassi was also great at calming the mouth and preventing anything from getting too hot. It was such a unique dish to me that I could quite happily go back every day for a week to eat another one. It was a very simple yet delicious lunch.

After lunch we drove to Castleton and had a quick wander round the village before trekking up to the ruins of Peveril Castle at the top of Peak Cavern (also affectionately known as The Devil’s Arse!) There is good parking at or nearby the visitors centre.
There are a couple of routes you can go to get up there, but we decided to climb up Cave Dale, which is a meandering rocky trail up an old river way, through the hills. The beginning was quite steep and rocky in parts, but the scenery was stunning. From the top it leveled out and we were treated to a spectacular view over Castleton. We then clambered back down a very steep grassy hill (the hardest part) and back round into Castleton for afternoon tea.

It was a lovely way to celebrate my belated birthday and it was so lovely to spend some time with my family again. The day was perfect, it almost felt like a little holiday and I didn’t want it to end.


Elle said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate! I've neer had a dosa but it sounds delicious, especially with the fillings and chutneys to add spice and variety. Interesting combinations of textures, too. Happy belated birthday!

Johanna GGG said...

sounds like a great celebration. I love dosa though I haven't had it heaps - I tried making it once and loved it but it was more hale and hearty than light and crisp - recently saw a recipe for besan dosa which sounded interesting

Nic said...

Nice day out by the sounds of it!
I just had my first dosas recently and loved them, so much so I had a go at making them at home, not bad but the ones in the restaurant were huge!

The Caked Crusader said...

I keep seeing dosas on the telly - most recently the Hairy Bikers. I really want to try it!

Choclette said...

Sounds like a lovely day, that Devil's Arse is rather grand. I'm quite envious of your dosas. When I was a student in London, se used to frequent a vegetarian dosa place - they were cheap and delicious and I loved them. I've not had once since.

Cupcake Crazy Gem said...

I LOVE mango lassi! I've never tried dosa's but keep seeing this restaurant near our house that makes them so maybe I need to stop by!
I went to Castleton on my year 6 end of school trip and we even did a little study project on Peveril Castle!

thomas kelly said...

sounds good kate??tommy

Mircrosoft Office Standard 2010 said...

I'm quite envious of your dosas. When I was a student in London, se used to frequent a vegetarian dosa place.