Meet 3 of Montreal’s Super South Indian Restaurants
Opened in 2012 on a strip surrounded by kosher fishmongers, Chinese barbecue joints, and Filipino grocery stores, BYOB restaurant Thanjai was a trailblazer in Montreal’s South Indian restaurant scene. Owner Kumaresan Muthukrishnan, originally from India’s Tamil Nadu region, came to Montreal for an IT job but quickly saw a need for food from home. “I’m not a cook,” he says, “but I just love idli.” Kumaresan is convinced of the idli’s health benefits: dipped into sambar, a light lentil soup spiked with vegetables, this is how southern Indians often start their day.
Kumaresan loves dosa, too: Thanjai’s menu of these thin crepes features every imaginable variety, from plain (flat and folded), paper masala (a round, crunchy tube of pancake with potato stuffing inside), wrap dosa (not dissimilar to a burrito) and the pièce de resistance, a six-foot dosa to share with your besties. Customers come from far and wide to dig in, even though there’s a popular branch in Ottawa.
Thanjai’s samosas are definitely South Indian style. These are a flatter variation stuffed with caramelized onion and peas as the main event; potatoes take more of a back seat than in a northern-style samosa. Their homemade tamarind chutney is a sweet, tart counterpoint for this popular starter.
Thanjai is currently working on a business lunch delivery service and a kitchen facility to prepare south Indian snacks and sweets: murukku, a crunchy, mildly spicy snack made of rice flour and ground lentils, is already for sale at the restaurant.
Make sure you order: In addition to the six-foot dosa, Thanjai’s Chicken 65, topped with raw sweet onion and a squeeze of lemon, is the dish to try here.