Monday, September 05, 2016

DOSA, by Munchery

Munchery, my favorite of the meal delivery services in the Bay Area, experimented with partnering with local, well known, restaurants for a while.  One was the indian restaurant, DOSA, and another was Asian fusion, Dragon Beaux.  Munchery's description of DOSA read: 
"DOSA combines the spices and authentic culinary traditions of India with a California focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients to deliver a diverse and impressive selection of dishes that have made it a Bay Area dining favorite."
This was exciting to me for several reasons.  First, I really enjoy indian food, so I'm always on the lookout for good options.  Second, indian is one cuisine that I really don't mind getting as take-out, or reheating.  Most food quality suffers quickly once prepared, but with indian, particularly curries, the flavor really just seems to get better.  And third, I still don't really have a indian restaurant in San Francisco that I love.  So, lots of potential here to satisfy me on a number of dimensions.

If you aren't familiar with DOSA, they have two restaurants in San Francisco, one in the Mission on Valencia, one in Pacific Heights on Filmore.  Their focus is South Indian, but for the Munchery dishes, it seems they wanted to appeal to a larger audience, and went for more familiar North Indian offerings.  I visited the Filmore location a few years ago, and wasn't particularly impressed, but when I've had dishes prepared by the executive chef in other venus (like food festivals, cooking demos), I was blown away by the spicing.  So, I was hopeful that this would be good.

Since I've reviewed Munchery many times before, I'll skipping the general details of the order experience, and will focus only on what made this partnership more unique.  As with all Munchery dishes, the menu is available about a week in advance for pre-order, or on-demand with about a 30 minute delivery time.  The food arrives cold, and you heat it up when you want it.

I'm not entirely sure the full details of the DOSA-Munhery partnership, as the website was pretty vague.  I'm assuming the food is still prepared in the Munchery kitchens, by the Munchery staff, but the recipes were developed with someone at DOSA?  I'm really not sure though.  The partnership lasted a couple months, with different DOSA branded dishes on the menu each week, and then, the branding went away.  Indian meals do still remain though.  Not sure what happened there. 

Anyway, I was really pleased with the dish I tried, and can't wait to try another.  If you'd like to try anything from Munchery, sign up with my referral code and you'll get $20 off your first order!
Munchery Photo: Chicken Tikka Masala.
The DOSA dish on the menu the week I ordered was Chicken Tikka Masala.  Like all Munchery dishes, the menu page had a photo of a lovely, composed plated dish, as you see above, and a full description:
"Chicken tikka, which originated from the kitchens of the Mughal rulers of 16th-century India, are boneless pieces that are marinated in spiced yogurt and set on skewers in a tandoor oven. This is combined with a rich and flavorful tomato-based sauce.   In addition to chicken tikka, we also prepared a side of spiced farro.  This is hydrated in fire-broth "rasam" with radish, carrots and a tamarind dressing and served alongside coconut rice and naan."
While I didn't expect my food to arrive looking like the photo, I did somewhat expect all elements from the photo to be included, and, they were not.  This was disappointing.  My tikka masala had no red peppers, there were no separate sides of green sauce or slivered nuts, and the side farro dish had no green beans.  Of course, the description didn't mention any of these things, so, it was true to the description, but not the photo.

But none of that *really* mattered.  What I cared about was if the food tasted good, and, it did.  It also was a great value, $11.95 for a full, complete meal of rice, naan, a side dish, and the main dish.  I'd certainly get it again, and was eager to try more DOSA dishes (particularly paneer ones!).
It was around the winter holidays, so my order arrived in a festive bag.  Inside was a tower of plastic containers, bound together with a cardboard wrapping.  This was different packaging than my previous orders from Munchery, but it had been a while since I ordered Munchery, so perhaps they've just switched it up?  Previously, dishes came all in one cardboard container.  Separating out the components makes a lot more sense to me, and likely helps them keep longer without drying out?  Seems like a good move.

The heating instructions were printed on the top label, for microwave or oven.
Trio of Containers. $11.95.
I unpackaged my tower to reveal a trio of containers, the topmost one even had a DOSA sticker on it, showing off the Munchery and Dosa collaboration.

At first I was a bit confused, as I knew the dish was supposed to come with tikka masala, plus rice, naan, and the random farro side dish.  I saw only three containers, not four.  One seemed to be rice, one farro, and one the tikka masala.  Where was my naan?

Whenever I get indian food, I always mostly use naan to lap up my sauces, leaving the rice for Ojan.  I'm just not a rice girl.  I was disappointed, and went to re-read the description on the website.  I verified that it definitely said it came with naan, but I figured it somehow got left out.  I was sad, but pressed on.

And then I saw it - the naan was actually in the container with the rice.
Coconut Rice and Naan.
I opened the rice/naan container to investigate further.  The little circle of bread fit perfectly inside the container.  They clearly planned this.  I've never seen naan packaged this way before though, usually when ordering from indian restaurants the naan is wrapped in foil (although in those cases, I guess they are trying to keep it warm, where Munchery doesn't have that need?  Still, a bit odd to put the naan in with the rice, when everything else was nicely separated).

Let's take a moment to talk about naan.  They don't actually serve naan at the Dosa restaurants, since they are a south indian restaurant.  For bread, they serve the signature dosa and uttapam, along with paratha, bhatura, and poori.  But no naan.  Munchery obviously realized that the masses are used to getting naan and rice with our curries, so, they include both.  Which, I appreciated.

I lifted the naan off the top of the container, expecting there to be a divider of some sort between the rice and naan.  There wasn't.  Hmm.  I assumed this meant the naan would be soggy, but, somehow it wasn't.

And that naan.  I'll be honest - it didn't look very good.  I always get at least garlic butter naan when I get naan, and this was plain, not even any butter (or ghee) in sight.  It also lacked any charing or evidence that it had been cooked in a tandoor.  It looked like just slightly thick generic white pita bread that I could get at a grocery store.  Hmm.

Still, I popped it in the toaster oven for a few minutes, to see what would happen.  The result?  It was ... decent.  It obviously didn't magically sprout a butter wash, or get smoky characteristics from a tandoori oven, but it was not dried out or stale, and toasted up really nicely.  I quite enjoyed dunking it in the tikka masala sauce, and was really glad they included naan in the dish.  The size was just right too, as it was plenty for one person without feeling like a carb overload.

The rice was long grained basmati rice with some spices in it.  It was light, fluffy, quite fragrant.  I'm certainly not a rice lover, but this was really surprisingly well prepared.  I liked the spices, and I couldn't get over how fluffy it was.  The coconut flavor was subtle, but a nice touch.  The rice reheated perfectly in the microwave.

A side of coconut rice at the restaurant is $3, so the overall price of $11.95 on Munchery seems quite reasonable.
Spiced Farro.
Next, I moved on to the spiced farro, the very confusing side dish.  The meal seemed complete as it was, an entree with both rice and naan as sides, so I'm not sure why another side dish, particularly a grain based one, was included.  If anything, some veggies seems more fitting?

Anyway, the spiced farro dish was intended to be served cold, as a grain based side salad.  It had a few slices of carrot and radish, plus some crunchy slivers that seemed sorta like almond (do they use almonds in indian food?).  On the very top was also some greenish brown goo of some sort, which might have been what was in the little side bowl in the stock photo?  I'm not sure what that was either, but it was really tasty.  I wish there was more, and that it was on the side so I could mix it in as I wanted.  The slices of vegetable were crispy and fresh, and I liked those too.  I didn't really care for the farro itself, but, that is just me not being a big grain lover.  It was well spiced.

After I ate it, I looked up "Fire Broth Rasam" on the Dosa website, and found that it is served as an appetizer, a soup, a "spicy broth of tomatoes, tamarind, lentils and black pepper, sipped from the bowl like miso."  For this dish, they used the broth to actually cook the farro I think.  It certainly explains all the spicing of the farro, plus the few random little lentils, and plentiful black pepper.

Overall, interesting, not something I'd ever order, and very random with the rest of the meal, but the flavorful goo was nice.
Chicken Tikka Masala.
And finally, the entree.  The portion looked a little small at first, but combined with the generous serving of coconut rice, the naan, and the farro, it was more than enough for a meal (and in fact, Ojan and I split it, followed by dessert of course).

The chicken tikka masala was really quite good.  Now, I don't actually like chicken.  I wished it was paneer.  But, we often get chicken tikka masala / butter chicken / etc because Ojan likes it, and, well, I love the sauce.  Honestly, my favorite indian food "meal" is garlic butter naan, butter chicken *sauce*, and some saag paneer.  I love to mix sauces, and dunk naan in the sauce.  So I'm used to getting a chicken dish, primarily for the sauce.

I did try one chunk of chicken, and I was impressed, it was moist and seemed good quality.  The container had probably 5 or 6 chunks in it.

The sauce though, that is what I was there for.  And it was great.  Really nicely spiced, some actual heat to it (medium that was really medium!), and plenty of it.  There was more than enough sauce for me to slather on the naan and some rice (which yes, I ended up going for some of the coconut rice, because it was that good ... for rice), and for Ojan to still have enough to coat his chicken.

Overall, really quite good, and better than similar dishes we've gotten for delivery from indian restaurants around town.  Just like naan though, Dosa doesn't actually serve tikka masala at the restaurant.


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