DOSE OF REALITY It takes three days to make a batch of Dosa Chips, but just minutes to eat a whole bag.
Iwas never much of a snacker. Since we often bond with favorite snacks during childhood, my childhood, in communist Russia, didn't provide me with much variety. But I've developed a thing for Dosa Chips.
I rarely seek out snacks in the supermarket, but what initially attracted me to Dosa Chips was, ironically, the price-to-size ratio. What could cost $6.79 in such a small bag, I wondered? Hand reached for product and the price was paid. In that small, seemingly overpriced package awaited the most addictive snack I could possibly dream of. It was love at first crunch. Dosa Chips—golden, gluten-free crispy shreds of deep-fried Indian dosa batter—turned out to be local. They're made by self-proclaimed "one-woman show" Suzanne McGoldrick, owner of Table Cafe in Larkspur, who makes the chips at the restaurant.
"They basically sell themselves," says McGoldrick when I confessed my addiction.
The unique chip—Google it, and you won't find anything like it—was born, like many good things, due to the hardships of the recession.
"My business started slumping, and I figured I had to do something," said McGoldrick. "I serve dosas at the restaurant, and I experimented with them for a while until one day I had a flash of inspiration."
According to McGoldrick, it takes three days to make the chips. The batter—a traditional South Indian recipe made with lentils, salt, water and rice flour—ferments overnight in big tubs. McGoldrick then makes giant dosa crêpes and lets them sit overnight and set. On the third day, the dosas are hand-cut, fried in healthful rice bran oil, left for the rest of the day to drain and bagged by hand. Flavors currently include the original (slightly sour, salty and satisfying) and cinnamon. Curry and chocolate are in the works.
Her first retail customer was Paradise Foods in Corte Madera. The store requested a sample and called back the same day, blissfully hooked. Since 2011, McGoldrick has gradually expanded her distribution to seven Marin County locations, 12 retailers in San Francisco and one in Berkeley. Loyal Californians who move out request shipping to their new homes, from Denver to North Carolina, and they're not alone; McGoldrick says Dean & DeLuca and Martha Stewart's magazine Living have already shown interest.
"I dream big, but I'm careful about what I do; I want to make sure it's good and right," says McGoldrick.
When the gluten-free trend works itself into the conversation, she admits it's a selling point, but customers mostly come back for the unique texture and flavor.
Before opening Table Cafe, McGoldrick worked as an art director, manager of a glass-blowing and caterer. In every job, she's stuck to the same principles: "Having standards, keeping your word, being true to who you are, and having your business as an extension of you."
And when that extension just happens to be a most unusual, tasty, healthful snack, one that's also "such a pain in the butt to make, I don't know if anyone would want to copy it"? Well, then success is almost guaranteed.