The dosa camps at Wilson Garden give you the true taste of the neighbourhood
Street food, more than anything else, gives you the measure of a city. Particularly its wholesome food made in a matter of minutes and served in the most eccentric of substitutes for a plate that one can find, and Wilson Garden’s ‘dosa camps’ opposite the Janatha Hotel deserve special mention. Jam-packed at most hours of the day and well into the night, from what the staff say, these eateries have been in service for nearly 21 years.
The camps are unique in that each one of them specialises in one particular ingredient. If one camp, the Kaendhi Bhavan, is famous for its ‘motte dosa’ (dosa stuffed with egg), three camps away, onion-stuffed uttapams and dosas sizzle on both stove and tongue indiscriminately.
As if bridging opposing paradigms, the camps together furnish the hungry traveller with a variety of dosas, vadas, idlis and uttapams: stuffed, unstuffed, dunked in sambar, unmixed, with or without chilli toppings, with chilli chutney or coconut chutney.
Despite working only within the south Indian cuisine, they provide quite an array of choices.
While the crowd is thinner in the afternoons, at night you can consider yourself lucky to be at the receiving end of a dosa ladle. There is no line or queue; the early bird gets the dosa.
The food comes wrapped in leaves, dressed with a dollop of deceptively benign chutney. It’s a stoic crowd which comes here, considering how chilli hot this food can get.
However heavy the dosas may be, the cost ranges from Rs. 20 to Rs. 30. That’s a good thing since I found three of the neighbouring ATMs boasting the legend: “out of order”.
Despite the slightly obscure location, there’s no arguing that this is the place for some quick street food. One thing though: the food here can make the emptiest of stomachs groan in agony not ten minutes after having had one serving.
A word of advice: to tackle the heavy, tough, rubbery, greasy — all-in-one stomach-churning combination — a dessert is a must. And that’s something that can be easily procured nearby.