From Glastonbury festival to The Gherkin, their delicious filled dosas (a fermented crepe made from rice batter and lentils) have fast become the dish of choice for diners looking for a fresh and tasty meal.
Amy chats to us about all things Dosa Deli as well as her experiences as one of the few vegetarian street food stalls out there…
Who/what inspired you to set up Dosa Deli?
We set up Dosa Deli after we were both made redundant from our jobs at a food events company – 3 weeks before Christmas and 3 months before our wedding! It made us start thinking about what we really wanted to do. We had both always had a passion for Indian cooking - the spices and flavour combinations are incredible - and thought how amazing it would be to have our own food business. We wanted our food to reflect us and having previously travelled around India, we thought dosas could offer people something a bit different to burgers.
So, we decided to take the big step to make it happen….
How do your locations influence your business?
We try to spend as much time as possible in India, researching new recipe ideas and gaining inspiration.
We usually trade at KERB events (a membership organisation for street food traders) and have popped up all over the place from the The Gherkin and Canary Wharf to festivals across the UK. Last year we went to Glastonbury and the End of the Road Festival and found everyone embraced the Dosa!
We always create new dishes for particular locations. For example, at festivals we serve vada (a deep fried snack from Southern India made from Urad Dahl lentils soaked in water with spices and curry leaves – similar to a savoury doughnut) which makes an easy hand held snack.
What is your unique selling point? What makes your brand stand out in such a competitive market?
Not only is all our food vegetarian but it is also gluten-free which is something that people are increasingly looking for when eating out. Everything we make is cooked fresh right in front of customers – it’s great to interact with people and we find they are always keen to learn about our story.
How do you react to the changing marketplace?
Although there are an increasing number of street food stalls, the growing competition only makes us want to do even better. We are constantly changing our recipes and dishes to keep everything new and exciting.
The market is always changing. We’ve benefited from the recent trend for ‘flexitarianism’ as one of the few vegetarian street food traders. We work really hard to ensure that our food appeals as much to meat eaters as it does to vegetarians.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
“Start small”. Try not to rush into anything too big early on otherwise you’ll end up spending too much money. We had no idea how successful our dosas would be and so to start with we just set up with a gazebo, tables and chairs. It was still a very risky investment and I’m quite risk averse but luckily it has paid off!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other chefs/entrepreneurs looking to succeed in the industry?
Do something different! A lot of people take off other people’s ideas which, whilst it can be successful, doesn’t provide the same creative fulfilment as creating something unique.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The customers! Seeing them enjoying our food is amazing, especially those who are hesitant to try it at first because it is vegetarian. People at Glastonbury even sought out our deli after hearing such good things about our meat-free, wheat-free dishes.
What are your future food trend predictions?
The American meat culture will always be something people are interested in. However, I predict vegetarian food will grow in popularity with more and more people choosing veggie options even if they are meat eaters.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Still working at festivals and hopefully growing our business so we can attend more of the bigger food events. We’d love to have our own restaurant as customers always ask if there’s a permanent site where they can find us.
What’s your signature dish?
Chilli cheese dosa wrap (a stuffed dosa with a tomato and roasted chana dhal chutney, fresh red onions and tamarind apple and date chutney)
What would be your dream meal? (starter, main and dessert)
- Korean style octopus
- Pork belly with salsa verde
- Panna cotta
Which five people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
- Rick Stein
- Robert Plant
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Professor Brian Cox
What are the three food items you’d take to a desert island?