Location: 1313 NE Alberta St.
Hours: Tues -Thurs 11am – 6pm, Fri & Sat 11am- 8pm
The Story: Get your fresh hot Dosas here! Indian street food at its finest, and for many Indian food lovers, Dosas are an almost religious experience. Made from dal lentils and rice ground to a fine powder, put into a batter and fermented, Dosas are one of India’s great street snacks – crispy along the edges, but tender. Savory and satisfying without being too heavy throughout, they can be eaten plain or with spices, or alongside Sambar (a spicy lentil soup), or rolled up like a burrito and stuffed with all manner of curries. A perfect grab and go treat to eat with one’s hands as they require no utensils.
Tiffin Asha is a newer cart on NE Alberta street, tucked into a driveway next to a yoga studio and a vintage housewares shop. Look for the silver and red cart with the bright blue sign sporting an elephant. With some cute but sparse decorations, and only three tables, this cart mirrors many humble street food stands in India. The folks involved know their food chops though: Elizabeth Golay, the owner of Tiffin Asha, has cooked at some of the best restaurants in Seattle, while her life partner’s family from the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh taught her their family recipes and techniques for this region’s highly sophisticated spice blends and food.
Although Tiffin Asha serves traditional Southern Indian food – Dosas, Idli (steamed rice cakes), and Vadas (think savory spiced donut holes), this isn’t a cart for strict purists. We think that’s a good thing. Sure you can get the classic simple combo of Dosa and Sambar (spicy lentil soup), or a potato curry stuffed Dosa. Yet, you’ll also find modern interpretations including the Hot Chick described as “pakora fried chicken drizzled with black cardamom-infused honey, pickled greens and creamy yogurt cheese.” Or, they have “Brunch Dosas” such as the smokey Shroom – “fried egg, local mushrooms, caramelized onions and Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue.” We simply say, WOW. If this is what fusion food can be then we’ll happily take it.
Where Tiffin Asha shows they really care about quality is in their house-made chutney bar. Offered free alongside your order, you’ll find a clean row of cold savory-and sometimes savory-spicy-sweet- sour chutneys such as green mango, coconut, cilantro, peanut, and their own Indian spiced ketchup. Super fresh, flavorful, and a perfect accompaniment to the more “neutral” carbs of Dosa, Vada, and Idli. Tiffin Asha is also introducing Portland to the concept of “Gun Powders”, described as,
WHAT IS GUN POWDER?[guhn-pou-der], Noun1. An explosive mixture.2. Also called podi, a powder made up of various spices, chilies and lentils and eaten like chutney. Found in the southern region of India.
Gun Powders at Tiffin come in a little bag with directions on them, alongside a little cup of oil. You mix as much (or as little) of the spice mixture as you wish into the oil, and then dip away with your Dosa, Idli, or Vada. Flavors include BLACK – mild, black sesame, WHITE – medium, dals, and RED – hot, red chili + peanut. These mixtures show the sophistication and deft hand of any Southern Indian cook as they are easy to over do, under do, or just make imbalanced. Tiffin Makes them quite well indeed.
Tiffin Asha would make any Amma (Grandmother) in Southern India proud. This is a well thought out, well run cart, with high quality food, and a nice addition to Portland’s ever evolving and diversifying food scene.
DOSAS – fermented dal and rice crepe brushed with neyyi (clarified butter)
- PAPER – crispy plain dosa, served with sambar $5
- HOT CHICK – pakora fried chicken drizzled with black cardamom-infused honey, pickled greens and creamy yogurt cheese $7
- STUDLY SPUD – crispy cinnamon-spiked baby potatoes tossed with tomato chutney and green chili -$6
BRUNCH DOSAS served 11-2 daily
- GUN POWDER – Fried egg dusted with your choice of gun powder $5
- B.A.T. fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, baby arugula and oven roasted tomatoes $7
- SMOKEY SHROOM – fried egg, local mushrooms, caramelized onions and Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue $7
VADA HOLES savory dal donut holes sprinkled with coconut-chili fleur de sel, served with sambar – SMALL 5 vadas $5. LARGE – 8 vadas $6
IDLI fermented dal and rice cake – 2 idli cakes, served with sambar $5
TIFFIN’S TRILOGY – one of each paper dosa, small vada and idli, served with sambar $8
SAMBAR – spicy dal soup made with seasonal vegetables tamarind + coconut $3
Note: Gunpowder Spices, Various Chutneys are Complimentary.
Phone: (503) 936-7663