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Food Traditions

A story of a ‘dosa’ that travelled real far …


Vada holes, Hot Chick dosa and not to forget the ‘gun powders’! Yes, that’s on the menu of a food truck named ‘Tiffin Asha’ based in Portland,OR. Advertised as a hub for South Indian Inspired Snacks. Indeed inspired yet unique. By the way, what’s ‘Gun Powder’ ? Read on to find out.

 Tiffin Asha | Portland Food Cart

Courtesy: behindthefoodcarts.com

Tiffin Asha is hard to miss. Sporting a canary-yellow elephant on a blue background, their sign is as vibrant as the South Indian food they serve. Elizabeth Golay, chef and owner of Tiffin Asha, was introduced to Southern Indian cuisine by her spouse, a native of Andra Pradesh. “I immediately fell in love with the unique flavor profiles, the lightness of the cuisine, and the techniques of preparation,” she says.


A graduate of the California Culinary Academy with years of restaurant experience (including a stint at Boston’s Oleana under James Beard Award-winning Chef Ana Sortun and two years as the pastry chef at Seattle’s Poppy), Elizabeth had been searching for an opportunity to make her own mark in the culinary world. She saw her chance in South India’s relative lack of representation in Portland’s food scene. “When we think of Indian food, we think of the curries from the North. It became important to me to introduce the food from the South, which has been sorely overlooked.”


Elizabeth began to play around with family recipes, adding her own twists to create unique dishes that are traditional yet wholly her own. Her most popular, the Hot Chick Dosa, features a golden dosa wrapped around Draper Valley Farms pakora fried chicken, pickled greens, yogurt cheese, and drizzled in black cardamom-infused honey. Or you can go for the Vada Holes: fluffy nuggets of savory dough sprinkled with coconut-chili sea salt perfect for dunking into sambar. If you want to take the flavor to 11, most dishes come with “gun powder,” clever little packets of spice blends for mixing into sesame oil and creating your own condiment. (As far as condiments go, the house made chutney bar is a can’t-miss as well.)


Dosa with Vada Holes and Sambar

In southeastern India, “tiffin” means “snack” and “asha” means “wish.” Elizabeth chose both words to capture her desire to branch out on her own in the food industry. “I was done working hard for other people’s dreams,” she explains. “I wanted to start working for mine.” Judging by the contentment she exudes while working in her kitchen, and the loyal following she’s garnered since starting her food cart, it’s safe to say her hopes were not misplaced.


Hot Chick: Pakora Fried Chicken with Cardamom Honey


Gun Powders


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