Sudbury·Northern Nosh

Meet the woman bringing dosas, idlis and other south Indian dishes to Espanola

Restaurant Garuda serves a variety of cuisines, but the south Indian options were a highlight for Up North host Jonathan Pinto.

Restaurant Garuda has a eclectic menu, but the south Indian options are a highlight

Shanthi Putsala is the chef and co-owner of Restaurant Garuda in Espanola. (Submitted by Naga Putsala)

Sometimes, the best food discoveries are completely by accident.

A few weeks ago, I was driving with my family back to Sudbury after a weekend in Sault Ste. Marie. It was mid-morning, and my toddler was getting pretty hungry.

So we decided to get off Highway 17 and pop into Espanola to see what we could find for brunch. On the main drag through town, I happened to notice a sign saying "Indian and Canadian cuisine."

Restaurant Garuda is located in the heart of Espanola, on Highway 6. (Supplied by Naga Putsala)

See, most Indian restaurants you see outside of the Greater Toronto Area serve north Indian food. So that's what I was expecting to see when I pulled over and pulled up the menu on my phone.

And indeed, Restaurant Garuda had your typical north Indian dishes, like butter chicken and naan.

But, to my shock, I saw some south Indian food as well.

Like dosas - a thin, crispy savoury craped, stuffed with your choice of fillings...

A dosa stuffed with spiced potatoes with a side of sambar. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

...and idlis - steamed rice cakes served with sambar, a lentil-based stew.

Idli with sambar and a peanut chutney. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

These were foods I grew up with! So we popped in — and items I ordered were pretty great.

To learn how a south Indian restaurant ended up in downtown Espanola, I reached Shanthi Putsala. She's the chef and owns the restaurant with her husband, Naga, who works at the Espanola paper mill.

Turns out its not Shanthi's first south Indian restaurant in northern Ontario.

Tap on the player to hear more.

Jonathan learned the story of Restaurant Garuda, an establishment serving hard-to-find South Indian dishes in Espanola. He spoke with owner and chef Shanthi Putsala.

Restaurant Garuda is located at 111 Centre St. in Espanola.

Northern Nosh is a weekly feature on Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for northern Ontario. If you know a food producer you think would make a great story, get in touch! 

Send an email to upnorth@cbc.ca, message us on Facebook or Twitter — or call 1-844-85NORTH.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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