A South Indian dosa can be intimidating at first glance, an oversize lentil-rice crepe rolled around any number of (usually vegetarian) stuffings, with its wide-open ends often drooping well off either side of the plate.
But despite its size and frequently spicy fillings, a great dosa is all about delicacy and subtle flavors.
The best I've had recently is at Rajbhog, the Cherry Hill cousin of the snack-shop standby in Jackson Heights, Queens.
This humble strip-mall space has been well-known for more than a decade to both South Jersey's Indian community and vegetarian bargain hunters who come for the $9.99 bottomless thali buffet, the myriad crunchy chaat salads, and uncommon dhokla lentil cakes.
But the dosas were the clear standout at my meal - so parchment-thin they were almost translucent and crunchy, but also still pliable enough to pinch around the curried masala potato filling and hold together after a dunk into the aromatic sambar lentil soup that comes on the side.
I dab the coconut chutney on top liberally, and always appreciate the extra spark of a hot red Mysore chile paste smeared inside mine. But another sign of dosa quality was the lingering flavor: the roasty tang of a well-fermented batter, its rice and lentils ground with yogurt then left to mature for two days, before it hits the griddle, rolls up a filling, and disappears from my plate.
- Craig LaBan
Mysore masala dosa, $5.99, Rajbhog, 1900 Greentree Rd., Cherry Hill, 856-489-7777; www.rajbhog.com