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Unit D – 169 Lexington Court
Waterloo, ON N2J 4R3
Shiri’s Kitchen hours are restricted due to Covid-19. According to a message on their website, “Indian street food items now available every Wednesday & Thursday 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm only. Call to place order and pickup or delivery thru UberEats and Doordash. Due to current COVID-19 situation our regular menu available for takeout and delivery only on Fridays 11.30 am to 7.30 pm, Saturday & Sundays from 12 pm to 6 pm. UberEats or DoorDash are our delivery partners. Please check this space for any further updates.”
[previously published] Shiri’s Kitchen is tucked away in a commercial neighbourhood of Waterloo, just off of Lexington Road and south of the Conestoga Parkway. It’s perhaps an unlikely place to find a marvellously thin crêpe-like creation called a dosa.
While we know pakoras and masalas, samosas and biryanis, the dosa is less familiar. The former dishes, for the most part, are from more northern areas of India; the latter, from the south—regions that include Chennai, Kerala and Hyderabad.
Wherever they’re from, dosas are delicious, and that includes Shiri Madireddy’s version.
Shiri’s Kitchen itself is primarily a catering facility with a bit of a store front for take-away, though it also has four or five tables that make up a casual dining room, at least pre-Covid-19. Shiri’s husband Murali also does some of the cooking.
The Madireddys, who opened the kitchen about five years ago, won’t give away all the particulars of what’s in the dosas, but they describe blending flours, soaking them and allowing them to ferment overnight.
The mixture is ground into a paste and used to create a thin batter, which is portioned out onto a hot griddle, spread into a disk 20 or 30 centimeters in diameter and cooked as a very thin, lacy crêpe.
The process takes time: washing and soaking the rice and lentils for 10 hours and the grinding process of 30 minutes yields to only a few minutes on the flat-top for a dosa millimeters thin.
The end result is delicious with dosas costing from $5.50 to $9.
Seasonings such as mustard seed and tamarind are added along with vegetable or chicken before the dosa is twice folded onto itself forming a long, flattened tube.
It’s often a breakfast food and can have a variety of fillings; the very popular masala dosa is stuffed with potato and curry. Loaded, it can be a bit spilly to eat, or it can be eaten plain. The bhurgi dosa is made with scrambled egg.
One of the things I like most about a dosa is that crisp exterior wrapper against the moist interior: what the combination creates, to my mind anyway, is just about the perfect balance in a slightly chewy mouthful.
Their spice heat can vary, and dosas are usually served with coconut chutney and sambar, a southern lentil and vegetable concoction that I think of as a dipping “soup.”
The wonderful texture aside, the dosa is a blank slate that Madireddy uses to create ten or so variations. “The most popular is Mysore (a city in southernmost Karnataka state) with masala potato and served with spicy red chili chutney,” she says.
“We will make over a hundred dosas,” she adds. “People like to try two or three varieties at a time.”