Tuesday, January 2, 2018

best thing i ate last week: green chile dosa at Paper Dosa in Santa Fe

One of my New Year's resolutions: post more frequently. So let's start 2018 on the right foot by getting back to these "best thing I ate last week" posts - a nice way to keep current without doing the usual more lengthy exegesis (and fewer footnotes!).

We just spent a few days between Christmas and New Year's Eve in Santa Fe, a place with some great food traditions which bridge Mexico and New Mexico, in much the same way that Tex-Mex has become its own particular idiom. One of the challenges I always face when choosing where to eat in these types of communities is how closely to hew to tradition, particularly with limited dining opportunities. Do I look for the most "authentic" places (whatever that means), or do I just look for good food?

I went in the latter direction for our last night in Santa Fe, and it worked out great. Paper Dosa (see more pictures in this Paper Dosa flickr set) is a South Indian place run by chef Paulraj Karuppasamy which began as a catering business, then started doing weekly pop-up dinners, and in 2015 opened as a full-blown restaurant. The menu features about a half-dozen appetizers and chaats, several choices of dosas and uttapam, rounded out with a few curries. It reminds me quite a bit of Hopper's in London, where we had a great lunch early last year.

Everything at Paper Dosa was eye-poppingly good, but the standout was a dish that sort of came full circle: a delicate dosa (a crepe made of fermented rice and lentil batter) stuffed with local green chiles and melted cheese, served with traditional accompaniments of sambar (a sort of lentil stew), plus coconut and tomato chutneys. This wasn't one of those goofy "fusion" dishes, like where some French or Italian dish gets some incongruous Asian ingredient thrown into it. It tasted entirely South Indian, and entirely New Mexican, all at once. And it was the best thing I ate last week.

Happy New Year, all, and welcome to 2018.

Paper Dosa
551 W. Cordova Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico

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