Hampton Chutney Company isn’t just a name. It really does have Hamptons origins. Born in 1995, the brainchild of Gary and Isabel MacGurn was born when the couple started making fresh chutneys, which they sold to gourmet markets in the Hamptons. Those chutneys later found their way to the shelves of such stores as Zabar’s and Fairway, some of the most important shopping meccas of the Upper West Side.
A few years later, the pair opened their first dosa shop in Amagansett. What is a dosa? It’s basically an Indian crepe, made with a sourdough batter. At Hampton Chutney Company, secreted away in Amagansett, those dosas were instantly successful. Filled with stuffing from avocado to roasted tomatoes to kalamata olives, they established a cultish following. Over two decades later, that cult status persists. The dosas — and everything else — at Hampton Chutney Company are as popular as ever.
Why dosas, you might ask? The MacGurns had met, it turns out, in South India, at an ashram, or monastery in Indian religions, and had agreed to import dosas to the west. In the Hamptons, where ethnic food is often hard to procure, the MacGurns found an opening. People, were, in fact, hungry for something different. They still are.
The menu at Hampton Chutney Company is all encompassing. There are dosas, of course — a whole compendium of them — and there are uttapams, too, or open-faced pancakes made from the same type of batter. Many of these are vegan or vegetarian, but there are meat options, too, such as curry chutney chicken, grilled chicken with roasted peppers, cilantro chutney tuna, and coconut chicken. There is also a comprehensive list of sandwiches and salads. And while a grilled cheese on sourdough with tomatoes and avocado may not challenge one’s sense of place, it’s still unspeakably delicious, as is the chocolate chunk cookie.
There are inspirations stemming from South India everywhere, though, including in the drinks section. Order a cardamom coffee, for instance, where the signature spice is warming but not overpowering, or, opt instead for a traditional iced chai. The fresh fruit lassi, an Indian delicacy made with yogurt and meant as a cooling refreshment, is everything one expects: chilly, delightful, and satisfying. There is, too, an orange blossom lemonade, a less sweet version of the American drink, and the floral, fragrant take is a welcome relief.
You can also take these things to go. That’s part of the fun. If the tiny Amagansett Square feels too secreted away for your afternoon, carry lunch to your favorite destination. It need not be a dosa. Hampton Chutney Company sells most of its food in pints and half-pints: curry chicken salad, potato masala, tuna salad, thali vegetable. For a cool $1.50, you can get a pillowy piece of naan for the road. Rip it into shreds and dip it into whichever pint container you happen to have on hand. It makes the perfect vehicle for scooping.
Whatever your pleasure, you’re bound to find it at Hampton Chutney Company. This place has certainly stood the test of time. Even the prices reflect a bygone era. Where else in the Hamptons can a comprehensive lunch be had for such a reasonable price? The Thali Platter includes the Indian vegetable of the day, served over Basmati rice, with soup, naan, chutney, and yogurt. Even with the addition of chicken, it only clocks in at $16.45. Do you hear that, Hamptons residents? All that, for under $20. There’s a reason this place has weathered the storms of time. May the next two decades be just as successful.