Overdosa serves street food with Indian panache
If you visited the Diwali celebrations held at Federation Square, then you would definitely have come across Overdosa – the vibrant and colourful shack with vintage, rustic props and a bunch of cool guys dishing out piping hot dosas to the hungry revellers.
Overdosa is a food venture by two passionate friends, Kunal and Tyson. While Kunal is from Mumbai and has been here for about 10 years, Tyson grew up in Rye, a small town on the Mornington Peninsula. Their paths crossed while both were at University and working at a Brunswick pub together.
Currently functioning as a mobile pop-up restaurant, Overdosa is all about embracing Indian street food. Simple, soulful comfort food served with Indian panache! Along with replicating the authentic flavours, Kunal and Tyson want the customer to experience the bustling atmosphere, vibrancy and friendly attitudes found on the streets of India.
The idea of starting a food truck started sometime in early 2001. The two friends decided to go travelling overseas which introduced them to the delicious world of street food.
“Kunal and I travelled overseas a lot together and toured places like Thailand, Central and South America and the USA where the street food was amazing,” Tyson said.
“We were eating on a budget so we could afford more beers! It was my first exposure to authentic street food and I really enjoyed the experience of getting my food from the colourful characters on the street selling their wares.”
The ‘food truck’ culture was just entering the Melbourne culinary scene and initially the idea was to open a Mauritian food truck. But after a trip back from India, Kunal suggested dosas, and so the two friends decided to embark on the ‘dosa’ journey.
Both of them decided to leave their full time careers (Tyson was an industrial designer and Kunal has a Master’s in Environment Management) and Overdosa was born.
“We originally wanted to build a food truck as that was the thing that was happening here. It was Melbourne’s version of street food,” Tyson said.
But the high costs of procuring a food truck and council regulations put a dampener on things, and so they settled on the idea of a pop-up restaurant. Tyson and Kunal felt this was the most economical, yet striking, way to showcase their food as well as provide the street food vibe for their customers to experience.
Overdosa opened its doors to the public from a warehouse space in Fitzroy.
“An urban Indian style street scene was set up to accompany the food and our business grew from there. Our customers, Indians, Aussies and tourists, really responded well to the concept. This also gives us the freedom to travel around in the process whilst serving foods at amazing festivals and events around the city,” Tyson said.
“Aussies have limited perceptions of Indian food which includes tandoori, naan and wet curries with rice. And of course the myth that the curries are riddled with burning hot chilli. There have also been many negative perceptions of Indian food in the past relating to bad food practices, and it being considered unhealthy, which we wanted to change with Overdosa.”
“Dosas are gluten free, vegan-friendly and rich in carbs and proteins, so we knew that this could be a way to show Aussies new flavours of India whilst accommodating the healthy eater and the dietary restricted.”
This foodie venture is a perfect example of how Indian food is finally breaking barriers and showcasing the strength of its ancient cuisine. Along with a dedicated Indian customer base, the restaurant also enjoys an equal presence by mainstream Australians and international tourists. And with the boys hailing from two different countries, they are able to easily cross the cultural boundaries using the medium of food.
At Overdosa, you get a taste of tradition. There are the classics like plain dosa, masala dosa, Mysore masala dosa, lentil poppers (vadai) and vada pav (re-christened as the Bombay burger); and then there is the fusion selection including dosas with a spicy tamarind pumpkin filling, channa masala, Andhra style scrambled egg filling. No dosa is complete without a chutney and at Overdosa, you get the classic coconut (totally recommended), coriander-mint, super-hot chilli and so on.
It is the best place to introduce your children to Indian soft drinks too. Choose from a selection of Thums-up, Limca, Maaza or finish off the meal with a hot chai! There is also a selection of flavoured lassi (mango, saffron, rose, cardamom) to choose from.
Overdosa also serves a cocktail specially designed to suit the food they serve. “The Miss Mumbai cocktail was designed by a French bartender at The Emerald Peacock. It has gin, lychee juice, saffron syrup, some other alcohol, toasted cumin and kaffir lime leaf. So good!”
There are plans for a restaurant and a new pop-up venture on the cards. But for now, Kunal and Tyson are happy feeding the hungry Melbournites hot, crispy dosas with chutney and vadai in true Indian style!