I’m always talking about brunch these days. And Houston is fortunately no stranger to the word.
I did some serious soul-searching on the brunch Yelp page, and Pondicheri popped up. I’d never heard of Indian brunch fare before, and as I scrolled through the menu I knew this was the next destination. I’ve heard that some people don’t really prefer breakfast/brunch because the options are rather limited. But rest assured, Pondicheri puts a new kind of cherry on top in the brunch department and presents a stellar menu with twists on your typical eggs-and-bacon-plus-toast dish.
The place is slightly small, with flowing sheer red curtains and dark wooden furniture. People line up to order at the cashier and as expected, the restaurant was crowded and bustling with activity. I couldn’t help but pause in my footsteps after I ordered when I saw the giant display case of baked goods (dubbed the “bake lab”) that looked like the picture of sophisticated health and deliciousness. (For example, there were quinoa muffins…who comes up with these things?)
I hemmed and hawed between the chef’s recommendation of a series of small dishes (Morning Thali) and the eggs masala, but then I saw a large chalkboard championing kale as the produce of the day.
When I think of kale, I imagine it to be a rather hipster vegetable. (Apparently Portland has kale burgers–who knew.) But I suppose it might not be really hipster anymore since tons of people are clamoring to eat it because of its good health benefits and whatnot. To be honest, I used to despise kale. Yet now I’ve had a change of heart, thanks to my dear mother. When I go home she loves telling me about the smoothies she whips up in her beloved Vitamix. She throws in things ranging from bananas to flaxseed to chia seeds to prune juice. And there is almost always kale included as well. So I’ve grown accustomed to the taste, even started liking it a little–it sort of grows on you.
The dish at Pondicheri, however, was dosa stuffed with saag eggs and then sprinkled with kale and a smattering of pomegranate seeds. It was also accompanied by a refreshing cilantro chutney and a little metal bowl of a spicy tomato broth that paired well with the dosa. I had no idea what dosa and saag were. But they both sounded delicious, and Pondicheri proved me right. Dosa is apparently a sort of crepe made of black lentils and rice, and the batter is allowed to sit and ferment before it’s ladled on a pan to cook. The dosa was elegantly folded over the eggs, and it had a pleasant light and fluffy texture as well as a slightly bitter taste. Saag, a leaf-based spinach, was scrambled with eggs and a curry spice which had a boldness that definitely awakened my senses. At the same time, the eggs’ flavor didn’t quite overpower the dosa’s taste. I also poured the cilantro chutney over the dosa, so I experienced a combination of a variety of defying flavors that worked well together.
The only thing that I regretted about the dish was that there wasn’t that much kale to begin with. The food certainly satisfied my hunger and craving for good Indian food, but I would have liked to see a more liberal amount of kale on the crepe. Nevertheless, I will be back for more–I’m eyeing that Morning Thali.