Variety and quality of South Indian food in Glen Eden

Dine-In, Takeaway, Outdoor Catering and Corporate Events

Venkat Raman

An increasing number of diners in New Zealand are beginning to enjoy the culinary delights of South India, with the establishment of Restaurants with Takeaway and Catering facilities such as Papadums South Indian Cuisine in Auckland.

Located at Unit 2, 4038, Great North Road in Glen Eden, the Restaurant, owned by Devendra Kumar Lakshmanan and his wife Sangeetha, serves more than 120 food and beverage items, a majority of them authentic and distinctly South Indian.

Snacks, Lunch and Dinner

Migrating to New Zealand in 2003, Kumar started his career in Wellington and later moved to New Plymouth and Auckland, acquiring experience in restaurant business.

He purchased Papadums in late 2017 and since then, offering variety and quality snacks and food for lunch (Tuesday to Sunday from 1130 am to 3 pm) and dinner (Monday to Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm).

“The response from customers has been encouraging and many of them are amazed at the extensive range of our South Indian Menu. For instance, a large number of customers are pleasantly surprised that we offer as many as 12 different types of Dosa, ranging from the Bangalore Dosa, Tamil Nadu Masala Dosa and Andhra Karapodi Dosa to Hyderabad Kheema Dosa and Kerala Prawn Dosa, covering the five States of South India,” he said.

As well as the famous Upma, Idly, Medhu Vada and Poori, Papadums South Indian Cuisine offers 20 Non-Vegetarian and Vegetarian Starters, leading to Mains covering Chicken, Lamb, Seafood and Vegetable curries and other items.

“We are happy to cook and serve dishes that are popular in other Indian States. These have been well received by our customers. Apart from dine-in, there are also regular takeaway orders,” Kumar said.

These include Marathi Mixed Vegetable Curry and Dahi Puri (from the State of Maharashtra), Goan Fish Curry (from the State of Goa), Punjabi Chole Masala (from the State of Punjab) and Pani Puri (from the State of Bihar) and Spinach Chaat and Samosa Chaat (from the States of Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh).

Idli or idly is a type of savoury rice cake, originating in Tamil Nadu.

Made by steaming a batter consisting of fermented black lentils (de-husked) and rice, it is readily metabolised by the human body since the fermentation process breaks down the starches.

Idli and Condiments

Idli has several variations, including Rava idli, made from Semolina and Sanna of Konkan.

Since plain Idlis are mild in taste, a condiment is considered essential and hence Sambar and a variety of chutney are usually served alongside. ‘Idli Podi,’ a dry and spicy powder (which can be made at home) are also recommended  and is convenient while travelling.

Most people consider Idli on its own as a ‘harmless’ breakfast or lunch item or even as a snack any time of the day.

Papadums serves ‘Podi Idli,’ with spicy powder (Karampodi), curry leaves, chopped onions and traditional spices.

About Dosas and Medhu Vada

Dosas are indigenous to South India but their exact birthplace is a matter of conjecture.

While Historian P Thankappan Nair said that Dosa originated in Udupi, a City in the  Southwest Indian State of Karnataka,  Food Historian K T Acharya believes that Dosa, (of Dosai) was in use in the ancient Tamil country more than 2000 years ago.

Dosai is mentioned in the Sangam Literature, which dates back to 3rd Century BC.

The association of Dosa to Udupi came about because of its ‘fixture’ at all Udupi Restaurants located throughout the world. Thinner and crispier than the Dosai, this dish was relatively unknown to New Zealand restaurants 20 years ago.

A recipe for Dosa can be found in the ‘Manasollasa,’ a 12th Century Sanskrit Encyclopaedia  compiled by Someshvara III, who ruled in a region that is present-day Karnataka.

Medhu Vada is literally ‘Soft Vada, a South Indian fritter made from Vigna Mungo (Black Gram or Urad Dal). It is usually made in dough shape with a crispy exterior and soft interior. Eaten as a snack or as a breakfast item, Medhu Vada is also served at Papadums during lunch and dinner sessions.

South Indian cuisine is aromatic as it uses varieties of spices in making fresh ground masala for its dishes. Papadums is a good example.

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