A vintage bicycle store is not the first place you would expect to find Indian street food in Melbourne – but that’s exactly where the boys behind Overdosa have set up shop. For the last four months, friends Tyson Savanah and Kunal Khanna have been serving dosas from their spot in the Mottainai Cycles store in Fitzroy. Wander past on the weekend and you will see a myriad of multi-coloured ottomans and stools lining the street in front of the store. You might even spot groups of diners perched on milk crates by the drive way, eating greedily from metal trays while people wheel their bikes past.
It all started while travelling together. The guys, eating mainly street food, realised something was missing on the Melbourne food scene. So they created Overdosa – a food stand serving the Indian street snack, dosas. Kind of like a crisp crepe, dosas are eaten by hand and filled with all sorts of savoury fillings. Last week, I visited the boys at their Rose Street digs to check out what’s on offer and have a chat.
On the fillings menu the day we visited was spicy tamarind pumpkin, classic potato masala and eggplant with peas. Whilst the fillings were not as hot and spicy as I expected they were all delicious and the dosas themselves were golden and crisp. I loved the classic potato – filled with smashed potato, fresh coriander and mild Indian spices. If you wanted to dial up the heat, you could heap on the hot chilli chutney – I didn’t get to try that one but it’s a must for my next visit.
These guys love what they do and have big plans. You can catch them at their 50 Rose Street, Fitzroy store on weekends until March and at the Melbourne Zoo twilight nights every Friday and Saturday night for seven weeks. Overdosa will also be popping up at the Evelyn on Brunswick Street on selected nights and various festivals all through summer. Below is my interview with the guys. Enjoy!
So first up – for those who don’t know, what’s a dosa? Where do they come from?
Dosa is a savoury crepe style pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter. The batter is dolloped onto a custom made hot plate and spread quickly in a circular motion until thin. It is cooked with low cholesterol oil until golden and crispy and is adorned with a selection of fillings. The dosa hails from south India however, many versions of it have been adopted throughout south east Asia and it takes the name of dosai there often.
How did you discover the dosa? Kunal: Overdosa came about when Tyson returned to Australia after nearly a year of international travel in Latin America, where I was with him for two months. Whilst travelling we ate from the street as much as we possibly could. Not only was it more affordable, but street food was easy, prompt and delicious. We realised that Melbourne didn’t have street food like they did. The mobility aspect was another big appeal as we were always on the move.
When Tyson returned from his travels he wanted to have a crack at street food in Melbourne. I was keen on it and we explored a heap of ideas like Mauritian and Mexican, but it was all pie in the sky. Not long after, I went back to India for nearly a whole year to visit family and friends and also do a tour of my home country. I had been living in Melbourne for ages and wanted to get back to my roots.
When I returned I brought up the idea again and asked if Tyson had thought anymore about it. I said – “Dude, I have it! Have you ever eaten a dosa before?” He hadn’t. I said, “man, I can’t believe I didn’t think of this when you were talking about street food last year. Dosa is awesome, I ate one nearly every day in India while growing up”. I told Tyson all about dosa and how popular they were there. No one was really doing it all that much here in Melbourne, particularly street food style. Dosa was never the hero on the menu at Indian restaurants. We went to Dosa Hut in Footscray to check it out and Tyson was impressed. The dosa was different and tasty. We decided to look into it further and went to my childhood friend Zubin Patel’s house to eat dosa and learn how it was made and cooked. The research began and so did Overdosa.
How long have you been doing the dosa thing for? How did you get into it?
Tyson: Overdosa has been operating as a hobby and we have been doing taste testers for guinea pig friends who have been loving it for the past year and a half – mostly at private functions, friends’ houses and parties. We were registered with Yarra City Council in September 2013 and have since been trading as a pop-up cafe from Mottainai Vintage Cycle warehouse in Rose Street, Fitzroy. We have been trading every weekend for almost four months now and will have use of the space up
until March 2014 before the warehouse gets demolished to make way for apartments.
One week after our launch in September we set-up stall at Ganesh Festival (celebration of the Hindu elephant God) 2013 in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne, serving southern Indian food to southern Indians. We got a pretty good response from the harshest critics of all! It was then when we knew that we are on to something.
Read the full interview with Tyson and Kunal at My Fair Melbourne’s blog here
OVERDOSA CUISINE: Indian, Pakistani, Vegetarian, Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner PH: 0413 102 914 HOURS: 11am – 8pm (see Facebook for daily updates) FACEBOOK:@OVERDOSA NOTES: Cash Only