Sunday, 13 May 2007

Nila – Delectable Dosai and Peculiar Pumpkin

When I was growing up, my mum sometimes made curries (especially sausage curry) but we rarely went out for Indian meals. Unlike E whose family loves an Indian take away. Since meeting him and his chilli-loving tastebuds, I have tried many Indian restaurants.

Our favourite Indian restaurant in Scotland was the Prince of India in Peebles which I mention here because I have struggled to find restaurants of comparable quality here. What I liked about the Prince of India was a good selection of mixed vegetable curries, the like of which I am yet to find elsewhere. Call me fussy or spoilt, but I continue to hope!

Hence my interest in the Nila’s Indian restaurants which have recently come to my attention. Last night we went to their Degraves Street restaurant in the city. It is a small brightly lit restaurant/takeaway with charcoal grey walls and red light shades. Hindi Pop features on their stereo.

As on my last visit, I was delighted by the huge array of vegetarian dishes and alternatives to curried veg and rice - ulunthu vadai (lentil doughnuts), roti curry roll and pizza dosai, to name a few, look intriguing. But I look forward to the day when I have the time and room to try the dessert of banana stuffed roti.

I only recently learnt of the existence of dosai. So last night I had to have the masala dosai again (see the photo). It is an impressive-looking huge wafer-thin light pancake wrapped around lightly spiced potato. It comes with three sauces which are a bit spicy for me to enjoy. Last time I coupled my dosai with dhal and it was a bit stodgy. So last night I went out on a limb and tried the pumpkin puli kolambu. It was soft chunks of pumpkin in a tamarind-based curry sauce. The sour and salty flavours contrasted nicely with the comforting stodge of the potato.

This is Indian, but not as I know it! Well maybe not. I should add that the window describes Nila’s food as Malaysian, Singaporean and South Indian Cuisine. Whatever it is, it’s worth a visit. And not only is the food interesting but it is cheap and quick. We managed to get dinner before having our senses assaulted by Throbbing Gristle at the Focus on Punk screenings at ACMI (E’s choice not mine).

13 Degraves Street
Melbourne City
Ph: 03 9014 8822
(other branches in 360 Sydney Rd Coburg, Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre, 702 Sydney Rd Brunswick)
Open: 11am–midnight Mon – Sat, 11am–5pm Sundays


  1. I LOVE dosai! (I often also struggle with the spicy sauce.) This place is creeping higher up my wishlist every time you mention it. :-)

  2. thanks cindy - I'll be interested to hear what you think when you visit Nila's

  3. Hey Johanna, I visited Nila Junction last night and just blogged about it. Loved it - thanks for the recommendation. :-)

  4. I'm late to this post but have to add another vote for being a dosa fan. I often go to Nila City for a lunchtime masala dosa. Very satisfying and over time I am feeling a lot more affectionate towards the nonstop Bollywood on the TV. Don't find the sauces spicy at all though.


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