Sophia Qureshi writes 285 South, a newsletter about immigrant communities in metro Atlanta. She started the newsletter after moving back to the Atlanta area (where she grew up) in 2020. She’s worked in different media and communications roles for over 15 years at organizations including Al Jazeera, CNN, the UN, and most recently, at the racial justice nonprofit South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). She is also co-founder of Subcontinental Drift, a nationwide South Asian arts collective.
Read more about Sophia here, and subscribe to 285 South here.
Rough Draft asked Sophia for her Top 5, and she gave us this list of South Asian things around Atlanta:
- Kurtas: Junaid Jamshed, a Pakistani clothing store located off Singleton Road in Norcross, is by far my favorite place to buy kurtas and shalwar kameezes (long loose-fitted tops and pants) in Atlanta. Their kurtas are that soft, thin cotton that is so hard to find in regular shops in the U.S. Expect to find flowy kurtas with bright, eye-catching patterns (everything I’ve bought from there is either yellow, orange, or pink!).
2. Threading: Atlanta has tons of options for threading (they definitely fulfill a need, as eyebrow hair grows fast!), but my favorite is Natural Identity Salon in the Patel Plaza shopping center off Church St. in Decatur. It’s spacious (a lot of threading salons can be tiny and cramped – which especially sucks during a pandemic), clean, and I’ve never had to wait long. I love the price too – the last time I went it was only $6 to get my brows groomed.
3. Dosas: Dosas are my favorite Indian vegetarian food — they’re light, crispy, healthy, and even gluten-free. I’ve been eating dosas from Gokul Sweets, also in Patel Plaza, for years. For $7.99 you get a plain dosa, with a bowl of sambar and coconut chutney. I haven’t dined inside since the pandemic, but I did get takeout, and the dosa was still relatively crispy. They also have decent chai — it comes in a small styrofoam cup, and is very thick and milky. Nothing like the “chai” you get at Starbucks.
4. South Asian non-veg food: I’m not an expert on meat based dishes (I prefer vegetarian food). My dad, however, is a regular patron to multiple South Asian restaurants around Atlanta, and his favorite place to eat a classic Pakistani dish is Zyka in Decatur. He always orders the Nihari there, a beef-based slow-cooked stew flavored with a range of spices (cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and others…) “The beef is very tender, and the curry is very tasty,” he says. For adventurous foodies, you can also find another popular, hard-to-find Pakistani dish here, paya, a soup made of cow or goat feet!
5. Daal: My mom’s kitchen. Daal in South Asian restaurants tends to be way over-spiced and way too oily. Real daal — to me — is made at home. My mom uses split red lentils, known as masoor daal. You can find them at any Indian grocery store or at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. She soaks it for many, many hours (she gasps when I tell her I cook my daal without soaking it), and then lets it simmer for a long time (“more longer, more better”). And she keeps the flavors to a minimum — just garlic, fresh green chiles, turmeric, cumin, and coriander.
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