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Small Pleasures: Brattleboro's Dosa Kitchen Brings South Indian Flavors Home

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Published June 13, 2023 at 1:46 p.m.
Updated June 14, 2023 at 10:03 a.m.


Leda Scheintaub and Nash Patel making dosas - COURTESY OF CLARE BARBOZA
  • Courtesy Of Clare Barboza
  • Leda Scheintaub and Nash Patel making dosas

Leda Scheintaub and Nash Patel have a lofty goal: to make dosa a household name in the United States. To start, the Brattleboro couple are staying close to home, selling their South Indian rice-and-lentil crêpe batter at stores throughout Vermont for customers to whip up in their own kitchens.

Scheintaub, a cookbook author, and Patel, who grew up in Hyderabad, India, have been in the dosa biz since 2014. They operate the popular Brattleboro food truck Dosa Kitchen and briefly had a brick-and-mortar restaurant. In 2018, they cowrote the first cookbook published in the U.S. dedicated to the stone-ground, fermented dish: Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India's Favorite Street Food.

A dosa batter business was their original idea, Scheintaub said. But they set it aside for lack of capital.

Dosa and sambar - COURTESY OF CLARE BARBOZA
  • Courtesy Of Clare Barboza
  • Dosa and sambar

"We did some numbers and realized, OK, you have to open a factory to do this," she said. "Instead, we decided to educate people about dosas — which millions of people eat every day in India — and have them eat Nash's dosas, which I fell in love with."

In October 2022, the couple won a $20,000 grant in the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation's business plan competition. They found a production space at the Winston Prouty Center and started scaling up their packaged product line.

The packaged batter is identical to the raw material of the crêpes they've served at Dosa Kitchen for years. Now, though, it can be found in stores such as South Burlington's Healthy Living, Montpelier's Hunger Mountain Co-op and both Burlington locations of City Market, Onion River Co-op.

Early on, the couple made batches almost every night with a home stone grinder about the size of a double food processor. In their new production space, they have two 20-liter stone grinders that are almost six feet tall. "You have to get on a step stool to pour into them," Scheintaub said.

Finished dosa with accompaniments - COURTESY OF CLARE BARBOZA
  • Courtesy Of Clare Barboza
  • Finished dosa with accompaniments

But stone grinding keeps things relatively small, she added. "There aren't stone grinders that take up the whole factory. It's a scale that makes sure you get similar results every time."

The fermentation involved in making dosa batter is less predictable, at the whims of temperature and humidity. Patel has a camera set up in the fermentation room, and a quick rise has sometimes sent him running back to the factory late at night. Thankfully, he and Scheintaub live only five minutes away.

Dosa Kitchen's tangy, ready-to-pour batter ($7.99 per quart) is naturally vegan and sugar- and gluten-free. The most traditional preparation produces crisp, paper-thin, crêpe-like dosas, often served with spiced potatoes, sambar and coconut chutney, Scheintaub said. But they can be tricky to nail at home. I've watched all the step-by-step videos on the company's website, and I still tend to get stuck while attempting to spread the batter in even, concentric circles.

Nontraditional ways to use dosa batter - COURTESY OF CLARE BARBOZA
  • Courtesy Of Clare Barboza
  • Nontraditional ways to use dosa batter

Set dosas — the thickness of a wrap — and the more pancake-like uttapam are easier preparations to start with, because they don't require careful spreading. Dosa Kitchen also sells classic accompaniments: spicy Mysore chutney and savory sambar, a lentil and vegetable stew.

"Or you can [use the batter to] make American-style waffles with maple syrup and butter," Scheintaub said with a laugh. "Any dosa's gonna taste delicious, and just about anything you can make a sandwich out of, you can use a dosa in its place."

Small Pleasures is an occasional column that features delicious and distinctive Vermont-made food or drinks that pack a punch. Send us your favorite little bites or sips with big payoff at [email protected].

Dosa Kitchen Factory + Food Truck, 209 Austine Dr., Brattleboro. Find stores and more information at dosakitchen.com.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Batter Up | Dosa Kitchen brings South Indian flavors home"

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