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May 27, 2005 10:22 AM

ISO South Indian market

  • t

Thanks Susan and Anthony for your roast duck recs for my last posting. Did end up having a great "two-part" duck at Sang Kee which my b-day bud loved, but I'll be sure to check out Lakeside (which I hear raves about their dim sum) and Ting Fong soon. Good 'n' cheap!...that's why I love Philly's Chinatown.

So-- for my next conquest, I've recently been turned on to the cuisines of South India (Kerala, Tamil, etc.) which are less heavy and more complex than their northern counterparts, in my opinion. Wondering if anyone knows of a good store/market in Philly to get Indian foodstuffs-- need curry leaves, ghee, asafoetida and good coconut for starters...

And, for that matter-- are there any Philly restaurants that serve South Indian grub, like sambars and dals, not just your typical tandoori buffet fare?

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  1. Kashmir Garden in North east philly has Kerala cuisine - especially the Sunday buffet is good. It also has an Indian store right next door where you can get curry leaves and all typical South Indian grocery.

    7 Replies
    1. re: anamika74

      holy old post!!

      there are only two restaurants i know of (however i by no means specialize in south indian cuisine!) and they are both west of the city. i'm not familiar with any markets.

      bawarchi in wayne - chesterbrook shopping center (bills itself as specializing in hyderabad cuisine, which i think is technically considered more central than south). bawarchi's made definite improvements since the former indian incarnation in that spot, the taj mahal.
      devi (in the exton area on rte 30) - not a fan of this place but i do owe it a revisit; i've only been there once and that was at least a year ago.

      anyway, i'm not going to feel too bad about hijacking this post now, because it's so old! but while i'm here already, i had a question or two about one of the two i mentioned above, bawarchi, and south indian food in general. it's gorgeous out today so i decided to take a nice long walk and ended up at bawarchi - only to find it closed. right around noon today. could not tell if the entire business had shut down, or if they might just be on vacation?

      part two; i recently visited a bunch of indian cities - spent some time backpacking thru a good cross-section of the country. two dishes in particular stood out:
      -veg biryani, which hyderabad is supposedly famous for (thus my wanting to visit bawarchi today!)
      -fish vindaloo from goa (hot as hell - like no spice i've ever had before! glad i had a big beer!)
      my final results were totally unexpected, because my previous experiences with indian food all stem from the US/Canada/UK, and previously i far preferred northern cuisine. from what i gathered during my time exploring india, the western world pretty much has northern indian cuisine down pat. everything i had in the northern cities was on par with what i've had in phila (with the exception of one fabulous, unforgettable meal in jaipur). however, southern and central/other indian cooking is in no way well-represented here in phila or anywhere else outside of india that i've been. some absolutely amazing dishes, two of which i'd mentioned above. i should have taken better food notes, but the soups and dosas i had were incredible, too. these foods are definitely something i want to try to revisit back here in phila. does anyone know of some incredible indian places that specialize in basically anything except northern cooking? til then, i'll hope bawarchi hasn't closed its doors for good, and i'll hope tomorrow is as nice as today so i can take another walk up there at lunch!

      i'll leave you with a link to a picture i took of a half-eaten meal of vegetable biryani + paneer from the tandoor, at an oceanside restaurant in mumbai (bombay):

      1. re: rabidog

        that is alarming, rabidog! Me n husband stopped by Bawarchi on another day last week..I think it is the memorial day - and we saw the closed board..and we went to Chinnar. We have to find out if it is closing ..IMO, food there is better than any other restaurant near by. I will be sad if they close.

        1. re: anamika74

          good news: not closed! though they have switched their hours and are now closed mondays, contrary to what the sign in the window says! anyway, what i had for lunch today was good (SPICY sambar!!) but i was really worked up for some veg biryani and the only kind they had was chicken. :( wish bawarchi had more vege options; i only had a couple dishes other than the soup. a weird peanut casserole - anyone know what that is? tasty! is that just meant to be eaten plain (or dipped in the sambar, as i experimented with)? dals were good, aloo gobi was good... and that was about all they had! (well, there was an okra thing too, but okra is one of two and a half foods i do not like, next to beets, and sometimes chocolate) anyway, what i had was good. small dessert bar, also yummy though.

        2. re: rabidog

          Northern Liberties to Wayne! You are talking long walk!

          1. re: Bigley9

            100 minutes by train! haha, i meant - i walk from my work (in the middle of nowhere chesterbrook) to the chesterbrook shopping center. it's just under a mile. so it's still a nice long lunch when i do it.

            hrm, i'm worried about bawarchi now that you mention they were closed last week as well. when i peeked inside, the tables were set and the fennel seeds were still out, so it couldn't have been that long ago... but turnover in that shopping center is incredible and about half of the places are currently unoccupied. what's more incredible is that god-awful deli across the way is always packed.

            today, i ended up at the chinese place next door. not sure why they bill themselves as thai/chinese (there's nothing remotely thai i've seen) but the sweet & sour shrimp is relatively good for the area (though i'm still mourning the loss of new lee up the street in gateway, which was by far the best).

            1. re: rabidog

              hey..thanks for sharing the news that they r open. I came here to check if you had posted an update. Good to see they r not closed. I have always wanted to try the thai chinese one, but once i see bawarchi i am not trying anything else. I am vegetarian and have been pleased with veggie option in Bawarchi.

              1. re: anamika74

                if you're vegetarian - the buffet at the chinese place next door is NOT going to make the cut. most days it is pretty much all meat.

      2. KKC - Kerala Kitchen Caterers aka Kerala Kitchens Inc... coworker just had some. her bf is keralan. haven't tried. don't even know if they have restaurant or takeout or only catering.
        7518 Castor Ave, Philadelphia, PA
        (215) 745-5363