• December 1st, 2008mr meanerindian food, LA restaurants, samosa house

    Following the outpouring of disagreement following my post on Samosa House in Culver City a few weeks ago, we decided to wipe the slate clean and try again. This time, we did everything right. Rather than ordering the “combo plate” (where they put a little of everything in a container), we went completely a-la-carte.

    So, we ordered the signature Jack Fruit curry, Saag (Spinach) curry, Channa Dahl (lentils), and Aloo Gobhi (potatoes and cauliflower), along with the requisite roti, and a side of basmati rice.

    Maybe the staff at Samosa House recall the days of the Raj when they hear my English accent, or they hate Brits, bald people or dudes over 40. I don’t know, but when I (over-politely) asked where the jackfruit curry was, the lady said “It will be out in a five minutes!” with an expression like a bothered parent who has responded “soon” 50 times when a kid has asked “are we there yet?” from the back seat of the cay. Now, I’m not being paranoid here as she was very, very nice to the person behind me, when asked the same thing: “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re just preparing some more now. It’ll be out in two minutes. Can I get you something while you’re waiting?”.

    Anyway, I decided to rise above the brush-off and to kill the waiting time browsed the aisles full of stuff I used to eat when I was only a lowly vegetarian (particularly the British chocolate – sorry, Americans, your Twix ain’t as good as ours, and that’s the way it is).

    Finally, the jackfruit arrived, and we headed home with some boxes of warm curry in the trunk. After unpacking the dishes, we served ourselves to heaps of gorgeous-looking food, and settled down to a movie with a nice bottle of vegan wine.

    Oh boy. Within 3 seconds I was on my way to the spice closet so I could get some TASTE into my curry. I sprinkled on curry powder and cayenne pepper, cuz I’m telling you that this food is so bland it’s an insult to the great cuisine of India.

    The beans tasted like one of those complimentary side dishes you get served at a crappy Mexican restaurant while the cauliflower/potato was so overcooked that everything had turned into much and I honestly could not tell if I was eating a potato or a cauliflower. The spinach was watery (it even had a layer of green water on top of it – UGH) and finally the roti was overcooked on one side, and undercooked on the other.

    Sorry, Samosa House, but you guys don’t know how to make remotely tasty Indian food and that’s a pity because you charge high prices and have a front of authenticity.

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  • October 27th, 2008mr meanerindian food, LA restaurants, samosa house

    It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Indian cuisine. Growing up in the UK where it is, of course, the national dish has enabled me to be quite discerning when Indian food is placed in front of me. So, I was delighted at the prospect of visiting the Samosa House in Culver City this past weekend to try their extensive vegan selection (they have seven vegan and three vegetarian entrees).

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    Well, I can tell you that the experience started off really well. The restaurant is deli-style, where orders are placed and served from heated containers right in front of you in a very clean and orderly environment. The service is excellent – the nice man behind the counter described all the dishes, including which were vegan. We could not decide which of the seven to taste, so we ordered them all as two 3-side samplers (with rice and bread) for $7.99 each, and one side (for the odd man out, final entrée: more to come on that).

    The seven dishes were as follows:

    Potatoes: Pretty much as the name suggests – lightly spiced potatoes served dry in no sauce
    Chickpeas: Your common chickpea curry served in a light sauce
    Lentils: Usually my favorite side, lentils served in a dark, creamy sauce, of which more later
    Potatoes with Long Beans: The name says it all – again, not a very saucy dish
    Bitter Melon: Seemed to be small fruits in a tangy sauce. Much more of a condiment than a side, if you ask me
    Spinach Tofu: Creamed spinach and small tofu chunks (although there were al most no tofu chunks in ours)
    Jackfruit: Pure Luck style jackfruit in a dry curry sauce


    We also had a very hearty serving of rice with each sampler (in fact, the rice accounted for around 60% of the volume of each container) and two small chapatti breads. Of course, we couldn’t help but order two of their signature samosas which were wrapped and fried right there. No microwaved samosas wrapped in foil here!

    We ordered the dishes to go, and hightailed it through West LA as fast as we could to get home – largely because carrying Indian food in your car leaves a lingering odor that lasts in direct proportion to how long you carried the food for. Although our journey was only about 20 minutes, I could still smell the curry in my car the following morning — even though we carried it in the trunk!

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  • October 9th, 2008quarrygirlindia's grill, indian food, LA restaurants

    curry can be a vegan’s best friend, especially if you get it from a restaurant where the staff is knowledgeable and straight up about ingredients. fortunately for us herbivores who live west of vermont (sorry, ¡yo soy!), the owners of the vegan-friendly hipster hangout electric lotus also have another fine, less trendy indian restaurant on san vicente: india’s grill.

    the service at india’s grill is impeccable, the interior is lovely, and most importantly, the food is delicious. we often get our curry to go, however, because india’s grill is on the way home from my husband’s work. plus, i like to eat dinner and watch twin peaks at the same time.

    because the portions from india’s grill are pretty huge, i usually end up with leftovers. hence takeaway breakfast curry. i assure you, it’s just as good the second time around.

    whole wheat roti ($1.95) with pulao rice ($4.95) and aloo gobhi ($8.95)

    whole wheat roti ($1.95) with pulao rice ($4.95) and aloo gobhi ($8.95)

    i think curry for breakfast is underrated. it’s great to wake up with tons of flavor and food that sets your mouth on fire. gets you ready for the day, i tell ya!

    while india’s grill specializes in several vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan, aloo gobhi is my favorite. potatoes in cauliflower in a light sauce blended together with the perfect spices. i always ask them to make it extra hot, because most curry dishes are too mild for me otherwise. this dish goes perfect with the pulao rice: saffron, grean peas and onions all sauteed together.

    and don’t forget to wrap everything up with a big piece of roti to make a scrumptious curry burrito. i’m pretty sure the naan contains eggs, but the roti is a-ok. just a minute on the grill, and the roti will be as good as new, even on the following day.

    so if you want an indian feast near weho or beverly hills, be sure to give india’s grill a shot. dine-in or take-out, they always rock my world.

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  • August 12th, 2008quarrygirlindian food, LA restaurants, paru's

    don’t be scared when you see a ragged building on a shady stretch of sunset blvd. that looks more like a bails bond office than an eatery. after they buzz you through the creepy-looking door, you find yourself in a dimly-lit, cozy indian restaurant, where the waiters are well-dressed and the decorations are traditional. it’s like stumbling into an eerie cave and finding a perfect, warm hideaway. i avoided paru’s vegetarian for ages, and little did i know that i was completely missing out on the loveliest curry house in all of la.

    i can’t wait to return and get a full-on slap-up dinner, because on this particular visit we just opted to split a few sides…all of which were amazing.

    cauliflower with potato $7.95

    cauliflower with potato $7.95

    spinach with lentils $7.95

    spinach with lentils $7.95

    sambar lentil gravy $1.95

    sambar lentil gravy $1.95

    the food at paru’s is a welcome change; much different to the indian food i’m used to eating. you see, i’ve been getting a little fed up with curry restaurants in la. none of them compare to london establishments, and since i have been spoiled by the best curry ever at home, i’ve had no reason to eat it when i’m out. so paru’s is officially the first indian restaurant i’ve been to since i got back from a vacation in the uk…9 months ago.

    and it did not disappoint! paru’s totally redefined curry in my book. while my favorite dishes are usually full of oil and on the very saucy side, paru’s food was very light, a bit dry, but still full of flavor. paru’s really puts it best on their website when they state, “we specialize in the cuisine of South India, where cooks typically use rich spices and aromatic herbs to transform intricate conjurations of vegetables, lentils, and rice into tasty meals that are as fulfilling as they are filling.” i left completely satisfied and feeling energized. yum.

    the cauliflower and potatoes were fantastic, but my favorite dish was the spinach and lentils. it went down perfectly with a side of pulau rice that was littered with peas and carrots. the paratha was also delicious—fluffy and warm, great for scooping up little bits of curry. i didn’t quite know what to expect from the sambar, and what i thought would be a gravy sauce turned out to be more like a vegetable soup. in any case, i loved it. we just passed the dish back and forth and ate it with a spoon until the bowl was dry.

    the best thing about paru’s, for me, is that they are a 100% vegetarian restaurant, and definitely know the meaning of the word vegan. our waiter told us exactly which dishes contained dairy before we even ordered, so we knew just what to avoid. i highly recommend you go and support this place. they sure deserve it…even if their exterior makes me a little uneasy.

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  • coachella saturday was the day of technical difficulties. the screens went out during death cab for cutie‘s set, when M.I.A. took the stage the lights broke, and the biggest technical difficulty of all made us several hours late for the festival, causing us to miss the beloved MGMT.

    luckily, the food was even better than it was on friday! god bless vegan rockers—at coachella, i reap the benefits of their dietary choices.

    combination plate: coconut rice with dal and tomato pea curry $8

    taking veganism one step further than the night prior, on saturday we decided to eat dinner at the bombay station, a stand that proclaimed to be ENTIRELY vegan.
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  • April 23rd, 2008mr meanercurry, indian food, vegan stuff

    We British love our curry. For sure, a vindaloo is the British national dish over fish and chips – factually, more brits eat curry on a regular basis than any other cuisine. They say “you never miss what you never had”. Well, I’ve had it and I miss it, yearning frequently for a rainy evening where I can pop out of my local pub into the Bombay Palace restaurant across the road, and order an onion bhaji followed by vegetable vindaloo with pilau rice and a roti. Don’t get me wrong – there are Indian restaurants here in LA, but none of them come remotely close to the taste, texture and experience of a British curry.

    So, I set out to emulate the Great British Curry in my own kitchen, and I can tell you that I’ve come pretty close.

    Here’s a close-up of what you can expect:

    And here it is in a dish ready to be served:

    Within an hour of prep time I can make a curry dish that tastes so similar to a curry house back home that I can close my eyes after eating it and hear the patter of rain on the streets of London.

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  • March 30th, 2008mr meanerindian food

    What’s more British than Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth and the red ‘phone box COMBINED? the answer is an authentic Indian Meal (referred to as a ‘curry’ by my good countryfolks). Living in the UK it’s easy to get Indian food quickly and inexpensively – for under US$15 you can enjoy a three-course meal that will leave you bursting at the seams with enjoyment. And, if you order carefully, the food is naturally Vegan – butter and yoghurt are used, but only in certain dishes.

    Traditional British Indian Restaurant/Curry House

    Unfortunately, stateside, there’s almost no customer demand for good curry in the face of ubiquitous ethnic foods of the US immigrant population (Asian, South American, etc.). Above all the lack of expertise to prepare Indian food (the British way, that is) means that it’s impossible to experience anything remotely like a British curry on this side of the pond. So, what’s a Brit over here to do?

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