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South Indian food? There's a difference?

Just like in the States, they say southern Indian food is tastier than their northern fare.

That’s why Allen Sem is a San Diego treasure. He’s Tamil, from Hyderabad. And they also say Hyderabad is one of southern India’s great food capitals. Allen sold his Hyderabadi home to finance a food truck here.

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He called it the Copper Chimney. Every Indian and Pakistani engineer at Qualcomm knew it.

Especially, his dosas were to die for...

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...way-big fermented rice pancakes, like tortillas on hormones — stuffed with spicy potato inside, rolled into a huge crispy golden flute, with a rich sambar (lentil soup) to dip it in, plus dollops of sauces like green mango, sautéed mushed onions, coconut, green coriander, and if you really wanna be daring, a lethal little bowl of red chiles.

Then he got rid of the truck. Horror? Where to get your dosa fix?

Whew. Now I’ve found him in Little India, settled in the back of an Indian grocery shop named Spice Court (Copper Chimney, 9474 Black Mountain Road, 619-997-6946).

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And he has a nice four-or-so table space just back of the store’s cash register.

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“It’s just easier, having a proper kitchen, not having to pay parking fees,” he says.

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But he says he’ll still come to you, and cook outside, on the spot, if you have 30 friends willing to pay $8 a head.

Now that would be a party.

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