A Savory Indian Crepe at Ganesh Dosa in Kaka‘ako Can Soothe the Mind
There’s only one thing on the menu at this ‘Ohana Hale Marketplace eatery, and it’s presented five different ways.
A funny thing happened on my way to writing about Honolulu’s newish South Indian restaurant. Sarithra has on its menu seven sections and 44 dishes—many of them Tamil Nadu specialties that seem wildly exotic if your knowledge of Indian cuisine is like mine, limited to naan, tandoor chicken and curries with chutney. It’s obvious that Sarithra’s idly buns (pronounced EED-ly), onion pakoda fritters and pepper chicken curry will take multiple visits to explore. And more energy than I can muster in the middle of a pandemic. But dosa! This South Indian crepe is easy to wrap my brain around—and it’s the only thing on the menu at Ganesh Dosa.
Which is why on a recent morning I find myself deep inside the mosaic of stalls at ‘Ohana Hale Marketplace. Ganesh’s counter is only open a few hours at midday, so I count myself lucky—even luckier when I learn the only traditional dosa on the menu, the $11 Classic filled with spiced-potato masala, is $1 cheaper before noon on weekdays.
I watch as the thin batter of lightly fermented rice and lentils is smoothed across a hot crepe griddle. In the time it takes to spoon a line of masala down the middle, the dosa is cooked. The edges are folded in, revealing a glossy underside ringed with concentric griddled circles of gold to crispy brown. Eating it at the marketplace will give you the best experience—a light, crisp rim giving way to a sturdier interior, the warm masala center cooled by a dunk in the accompanying coconut chutney tinged with ginger. I drive mine home instead, enveloped in gentle sour and roasted aromas, which leaves the dosa more pliant than crisp. But it’s so good I’ll have Ganesh’s dosas a second time, and a third. The other dosas on the menu offer permutations of sun-dried or fresh tomatoes, olives, spinach and different cheeses (or you can sub in avocado to make it vegan). My go-to dosas now are the Masala Supreme and the Chef’s Recommendation (both $15), which marry the fluffy potatoes with bright pops of flavor. The effect of my dosa initiation is twofold: I want more, and I’m ready to start exploring South India.