Madras Masala
By YP Contributor

South Indian Cuisine on Bloor West

Bringing his South Indian cuisine to Toronto has been quite a journey for Damu Renga. He trained in hotel management in his native South India and worked at the Sheraton in Madras before moving on to Carnival Cruise Lines based out of Detroit. After immigrating to Canada in 2003, Damu picked up tricks of the local trade in various restaurants then opened Madras Masala in 2008 with a focus on the food he grew up with. “The main dish is dosa, which is particular to that region. It has very little fat in it, which is one reason why it’s become so popular,” he explains.

Damu notes that about one-fifth of his clientele are from South India and if anyone is a judge of the authentic food of his home region, they are. “They describe my food as mouth watering and say it tastes like it’s from home,” Damu says with pride.

The Garam Masala just has to be Indian for example. When my friends go home, I give them a long list of spices to bring back. - Damu Renga, owner
Madras Masala

Dosa Delights

Dosa are a type of thin Indian pancake native to South India that can be served with a variety of fillings. At Madras Masala you can pick and choose from a plain dosa or one filled with a gentle chilli and cheese stuffing. There are tangy fillings and meat fillings as well. You can get a dosa filled with chicken or fish or one with spicy potatoes and onions. If you crave something plain yet appetizing, try a dosa flavoured with ghee, a kind of Indian butter. All are accompanied with tasty chutneys.

As well as serving standard dosa fare, Damu is creative with his dosa recipes, coming up with his own delicious concoctions such as a cilantro, rice and yoghurt dosa filling. “We have more than 20 kinds of dosa for all tastes,” notes Damu.

Madras Masala

Wide Menu

The dosas at Madras Masala have garnered a loyal following, but there’s more to the menu than these delectable savouries. A range of lentil soups; meat, veggie and seafood curries; biryanis; and rice dishes are served with subtle coconut, onion and chilli flavourings. There’s a special kid’s menu as well which includes a Mickey Mouse head shaped dosa!

Unique to South Indian cooking is a Chinese influence, which comes out in dishes in which Damu cooks Asian ingredients in an Indian style. “All my food is homemade and healthy. I use a lot of ginger and the ingredients have medicinal value,” Damu points out. “A great deal of it is naturally gluten-free and vegan and we use vegetarian ghee for the veggie dishes.”

While Damu uses local produce, the spices have to be Indian. “The garam masala just has to be Indian for example," he insists. "When my friends go home, I give them a long list of spices to bring back.”

Madras Masala
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