My ingenious friend, Amit Raz, owner of Masala Dosa, has brought back his chef’s table on Thursday evenings. This time he has managed to produce a five-course service à la russe dinner of southern Indian and Cape Malay inspired dishes which also happen to be vegan, low-carb and wheat-free.
The amuse-bouche is a finger sized dosa with a delicate, yellow sambar (lentils and tamarind broth) and a coconut chutney garnish.
First course is smoked tomato soup with masala aubergine wafers. It is served in a little glass jar, which gave me that sense of childhood naughtiness when one surreptitiously ate out of the fridge. The fleshy aubergines and the smokiness of the tomato give it an almost meaty depth. Diehard carnivores will be taken by surprise by this one.
One of the many things I like about Raz’s presentation is its playfulness. Here you dip bean kofta lollipops (usually these are served on cinnamon sticks) into a bag of spicy sherbet, tomato and tamarind glaze. When I had the chef’s dinner before, the bag was paper and there was something delightful about adding an invisible ingredient. I hope he brings this back.
As a palate cleanser, there is a miniature milk pale with a thimble full of saffron citrus lassi.
The fourth (main) course is a buckwheat and red quinoa breyani with seasonal vegetables, whole spices, dried fruit and nuts, brown steak mushrooms, accompanied with dhal, salsa and apple and mint chutney. Very moreish!
Finally for dessert, falooda: strawberry and rose ice cream, shiretaki pearls, chai seeds, basil seeds (or “subja”; kids sometimes call these frog spawn), coconut milk, roasted almond flakes and pistachio.
For only R195 per person, it’s one of the best value chef’s tables around, and one of only three I know that are set vegetarian.
Masala dosa, 167 Long Street. Telephone 021 424 6772.