I was happily surprised when I found the word ‘dosa’ on a menu at Indira, a small Indian restaurant a 15-minute drive away from my parents’ house in Tonami.
I don’t know why, but in Japan, in general, an ‘Indian’ restaurant means a north Indian restaurant. Their menus only have items that seem to be of north Indian-style – like chicken curries that are heavy on the gravy and naan.
I hardly see chappatis in Indian restaurants here. It is only of late that south Indian restaurants have begun coming up, and most of them are still only in Tokyo. So for south Indian food-lovers in Japan living outside of the capital, it is somewhat of a privilege to get a taste of south Indian food.
So how come the dosa on that menu, I wondered. It may be hard for you to believe, but my hometown doesn’t even have a cinema, let alone an Indian restaurant serving dosas.
To find out, I chatted with the chef, a good-looking Indian man who speaks fluent Japanese in the dialect of my hometown. He said he was originally from Kolkata and had worked as a chef in Chennai for more than 10 years. He had then worked in Malaysia and had finally settled down in Japan. He brought dosas into the menu as he saw a fellow chef serving dosas in another restaurant and realised they were very popular.
And there it was, a simple dosa in front of me. As far as I know, Indira is the first Indian restaurant serving south Indian food in my home prefecture, Toyama. Is this something to do with globalisation? It doesn’t matter. I just hope dosa will serve as a trigger and that someday, I will get idlis or even vada, bonda, curd rice and lemon rice in my hometown!
(Ms. Kondo, who lives in Toyama, spent some time in Chennai as a student)
Chennai Central at The Hindu celebrates Madras Week
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