It started with a couple’s marriage and evolved into a marriage of cuisines. Now the owners of a South Indian fusion food truck have published their shared passion for cooking on the pages of a new book out this month.
“Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India's Favorite Street Food” is a collection of 55 recipes from Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub, who own and operate Dosa Kitchen in Brattleboro. The seasonal truck, which opened for business in 2014 at the entrance to Retreat Farm (next to Grafton Village Cheese), showcases one South Indian staple: the dosa.
It’s a fermented rice and lentil gluten-free crêpe. These treats require only a few ingredients, and because they’re fermented they’re very easily digestible. Served on every street corner in South India, the dosa is versatile – anything you can put between two slices of bread you can roll into a dosa.
The couple’s relationship began a little more than a decade ago in New York City, where Patel waited tables at an Indian restaurant and Scheintaub was his frequent customer. They traded the city for small-town life when they moved to Brattleboro in 2009. While Patel cooked the crêpes frequently at home, they weren't available elsewhere in Vermont.
Patel, who moved to the United States in 2005, learned to cook from his mother. Scheintaub has written several cookbooks. Her recent work includes collaborations with Oprah Winfrey, boxer Laila Ali (Muhammad Ali's daughter) and Claudia Sandoval, winner of Fox's "MasterChef."
The recipes in the dosa cookbook combine the couple’s culinary repertoires.
“I believe any food can be healthy food,” said Scheintaub, who is particularly passionate about fermented foods in everyday cooking – they were the focus of her book, “Cultured Foods for Your Kitchen.”
The cookbook exemplifies her and her husband’s shared values to “eat globally while staying local.”
In addition to showcasing South Indian food using pure, high-quality ingredients, it was important for the couple that their restaurant be farm-to-table. They purchase ethically raised meats and dairy products from local farms.
Pork comes from Center Mountain Farm in Marlboro, Vt., and beef from Black Watch Farm in Springfield, Vt. The farmers’ market provides cabbage for their sauerkraut and kimchi while Wild Carrot Farm, located five minutes from the truck, provides greens such as kale for their kale and masala sauerkraut salad. The rest of their produce they procure from Windham Farm and Food.
Recipes for items on the food truck menu are all in the cookbook. The couple is constantly testing and sharing new recipes with each other, said Scheintaub, and recently added a second kitchen to their home.
“There’s a lot of space to experiment,” said Scheintaub.
Patel makes from-scratch dosas ranging from the classic masala dosa (rice, lentils, potato, methi, curry leaves and served with chutneys and sambar) to his signature creation: a “dosa dog,” featuring a beef and pork hot dog with house-made cultured mustard, Patel’s own masala sauerkraut (with turmeric, mustard seeds and fennel), and Grafton cheddar cheese.
Other dosa recipes the pair created include one filled with falafel (made with nuts and seeds rather than chickpeas) and hummus (the hummus made with lime juice and Indian spices), a lox and cream cheese dosa and a Thai-Indian fusion dosa with curried lamb.
Of course, the master dosa batter recipe is in its pages, along with recipes for fillings, chutneys (one is pulled pork with tamarind barbecue chutney) and sauces. Side dishes include Patel’s family recipe for ginger chili beef fry, drinks like strawberry-rose yogurt lassi and dessert dosas.
One of Scheintaub’s favorite dessert dosas was created by friend Patricia Austin of Wildflower Vermont Bakery – a pineapple upside-down dosa with caramelized Indian sugar.
Scheintaub, who is Jewish, also wove in her native culinary traditions to the cookbook. One is matzo brei, a dish made by breaking up matzo, soaking the pieces in egg and cooking them on the stovetop – the recipe in the cookbook uses a dosa instead of the matzo. A recipe for cheese blintzes also uses a dosa instead of a traditional thin pancake, and crumbled paneer.
“It’s a fun combination of our worlds,” said Scheintaub.
“Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India’s Favorite Street Food” is available everywhere books are sold. Patel and Scheintaub will host a book signing and food tasting Aug. 14 at 6 p.m. at Toadstool Bookshop in Keene. For more information, visit dosakitchen.com.