Cheap Eats 2018: Balaji Cafe

Dosa, uttapam, paratha, and pav bhaji at Balaji Cafe. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Northern Virginia is far from southern India, but a balmy corner of chef/owner Naresh Advani’s kitchen mimics the climate of his homeland—perfect for fermenting a dozen-odd doughs and batters for the restaurant’s menu of vegetarian dosas, chaats (crunchy snacks), and breads. If we had to pick one, it would be the masterful rava dosa—all crisp edges and soft corners, threaded with onion, cilantro, and chilies and served with a zesty vegetable stew. Round out the spread with a sumptuous samosa chaat or a balloon-like bhatura. Also good: Lemon rice; vegetable thali; paneer chili; mango lassi.

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