Thiru Kumar aka Dosa Man, winner of the 2007 Vendy Award, probably recognizes my face. Like many people who work or go to school near Washington Square, I frequent his stand on the south side of the park.
For $6, you get a dosa, a typical South Indian crepe made of lentils and rice and often filled with spiced potatoes, a tiny cup of soup and a side of coconut chutney. I’ve filled many a screening room at NYU with the fragrant spices of my hot lunch.
I will remain loyal to Dosa Man for his friendly demeanor, his excellent dosas and convenient location (I can dash through the park in between classes), but yesterday, my world was rocked.
Mark and our friends Deborah and Nandi and I happened to be in Queens to see an exhibit Nandi curated on Andean textiles at Queens College. Considering that I hardly ever go above 14th Street, I spend a lot of time in Queens, always in search of different kinds of food (usually authentic, most always cheap).
For Indian food, I normally go to Jackson Heights and follow dinner with a Bollywood movie at the Eagle Theater. Sadly, I learned the theater has been closed since May because of the Bollywood film industry strike.
But luckily, Deborah, a Queens native, suggested we have dinner at the Ganesh Temple, just a short bus ride from the exhibit in Flushing. After eating there, I told her it was the best decision anyone has ever made.
Because the canteen’s main purpose is to feed their devotees, the food is very reasonably priced as well as delicious. Housed in the basement of the temple, it’s a simple cafeteria filled with families enjoying their hearty meals on styrofoam plates and red plastic trays.
The best thing we had was the paneer and butter dosa, followed closely by the spicy hyderapadi dosa. When we ordered the latter, the man warned us it would be very spicy and asked us what our spice tolerance level was.
We said our tolerance was high. It turned out to be not very spicy at all and we couldn’t help but wonder if they either cut down on the spice because they didn’t think we could handle it or if they just exaggerated the level of spiciness to warn us, should we happen to be the kind of people unaccustomed to anything hotter than black pepper.
In the end, we ordered a feast so large it might have made Henry VIII blush. Everything looked and smelled so delicious and it was all so cheap, we couldn’t help but go a little crazy. Deborah said that it always happens the first time.
For more food than we could eat plus drinks, we spent less than $30 between the four of us. Mango lassis were only a dollar, as was the tasty spiced chai, which I enjoyed at the time but kept me up until 5 AM this morning.
If you make the trek to Flushing for these incredible dosas, be sure to pay a visit to the beautiful and recently renovated temple upstairs.
The Hindu Temple Society of North America
45-57 Bowne Street, Flushing, NY 11355-2202
Open Daily: 8:30 AM – 9:00 PM