Monday, August 5, 2013

Tiffin Asha

(UPDATE 11/23/13: Tiffin Asha will be relocating to N Mississippi and N Beech in the near future!)

Tiffin Asha is a South Indian food cart on NE Alberta St. (near 13th Ave.) in Portland, Oregon.

Elizabeth opened this food cart in mid-May serving snacks one may find in Southern India. The food here is probably not what the general public thinks when asked about Indian food. I know when I first glanced at the menu, none of the dishes were familiar to me.

But hey, I can easily fix that problem. Might as well order Tiffin's Trilogy ($8) and get a sampling of several items!

The paper dosa is a fermented dal and rice crepe, brushed with neyyi (clarified butter). It's served with sambar, a spicy dal soup made with seasonal vegetables and tamarind. It reminded me of India's take on the grilled cheese and tomato soup classic pairing. I picked up a cheesy-like quality in the dosa that made me want to keep eating it. To me, the sambar had a creamy-like taste but remained dark red in color.

Paper Dosa

Idli is a rice cake also made with fermented dal. There is a noticeable fermented taste, but I found it quite pleasing. It goes pretty well with the sambar.


Vada holes are savory dal doughnut holes sprinkled with coconut-chili fleur de sel. Extremely fluffy, with that crunchy exterior. I could eat at least 50 of these and not feel guilty.

Vada Holes

There's a chutney bar that people get access to when ordering an entree. The homemade Indian ketchup caught my eye. It's got a heightened sweetness to start, and the Indian spices announce their presence on the back end.

Cilantro; Tomato
Peanut; Coconut; South Indian Ketchup
The "gun powder" here is a cart-made mix of spices. On autopilot, I got the spiciest one. You can toss this in some sesame oil (also included with your order) and enjoy it with any of the snacks at the cart.

I'm very intrigued by the brunch dosas that you can order at this cart. Basically, these are India's take on wraps and are served daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The "B.A.T." ($7) has smoked applewood bacon, baby arugula, and oven-roasted tomatoes. The "Smokey Shroom" ($7) has a fried egg, local mushrooms, caramelized onions, and Rogue's creamy blue cheese. Wow.

The "Hot Chick" ($7) has been a popular menu item. A dosa contains pakora fried chicken, black cardamom-infused honey, pickled greens, and creamy yogurt cheese. The dosas in general are quite massive, so you're getting a great value here.

Tiffin Asha is another great Portland food cart! 8.5/10

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