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Clean, Kosher, and Veggie?

l
Luckydog Apr 23, 2007 11:18 AM

Anyone know of a clean, kosher, and vegetarian restaurant near 23rd street between west 5th and 6th avenue? Thanks!

  1. Joe Berger Apr 23, 2007 12:23 PM

    Madras Mahal
    Vegetarian Indian Restaurant
    104 Lexington Ave Btwn 27th & 28th St
    New York , NY 10016
    212-684-4010

    http://madrasmahal.tripod.com/main/

    I'll be there for dinner tomorrow.
    will post and up to date review.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Joe Berger
      c
      Clarissa Apr 23, 2007 12:35 PM

      I was about to post the same recommendation. That is my absolute favorite Indian vegetarian. Something about their food is just a cut above. This is the place that I beg my husband to pick up from on his way home from work, and it's way out of his way so it takes a lot of begging. I'm particularly fond of two of the appetizers, the Bonda and Dahi Vada, but I've had lots of the items on their menu and have loved everything. Whenever I'm down in the neighborhood I eat there, which means I have to find excuses to be down in the neighborhood.

      1. re: Clarissa
        Joe Berger Apr 23, 2007 12:47 PM

        Bonda - two fried potato ball fritters served with coconut chutney & sambar bean sauce.
        Dahi Vada - two lentil balls in spiced date & tamarind yogurt sauce served with sweet & sour chutney

        Yummy Clarissa, please keep your favorites coming! that Dahi Vada sounds great.
        I don't like potato, so I'll probably get the Mulligatawny Bean Soup instead.
        Now I have to figure out which Entrées; the Dosai, Uttappam or Punjab Curries.

        1. re: Joe Berger
          z
          zsero Apr 24, 2007 11:08 AM

          Undhiyu. Or chana masala.

          If you want something really spicy, try the rassam.

          1. re: Joe Berger
            c
            Clarissa Apr 24, 2007 11:31 AM

            I also love the Bhel Puri appetizer (puffed rice with these little crunchy noodles) but should say that both this and the Dahi Vada are sweet. The Dosai and Utthappam are all very good. I love the okra, but I know that's not everybody's cup of tea, I just love okra. I love any and all of the entrees I've tried. I like the Palak Paneer (homemade cheese with spinach), but should mention that it is very creamy. For dessert I always get the Gajar Halwa (carrot), but I'm a big fan of Gajar Halwa in general and order it whenever I see it on a menu. Generally when ordering from Madras Mahal I go nuts with the appetizers because they have so many good ones, some of them kind of unusual, and have to remind myself to get entrees at all.

            (please report in after your meal. Enjoy!)

            1. re: Clarissa
              z
              zsero Apr 24, 2007 11:35 AM

              If you have to remind yourself to get mains, why bother? If you've had two or three appetisers, who needs a main?

              1. re: zsero
                c
                Clarissa Apr 24, 2007 11:40 AM

                True, but so many appetizers are fried and maybe not as nutrient-rich as some of the vegetable entrees. I'm ordering for the family, and want to try to get a reasonably balanced meal. I hate to admit that I would happily live on delicious fried Indian app's with some potatoes involved and would forget about everything else. Except dessert, of course. (Although these days I'm sad to say I'm on Weight Watchers -- responding in this post has made me look at my Madras Mahal menu, which is torture!)

        2. re: Joe Berger
          Joe Berger Apr 25, 2007 01:45 PM

          many people don't realize when they read a restaurant review, the reviewer is often raving about what they alone ordered, not realizing there are tons of much better items on the menu. I was fortunate to join a group of 8 people who all shared parts of their meals with each other, so in fact I was able to taste over a dozen different dishes. so instead of commenting on everything I tried, I will give an honorable mention to only a few dishes that had distinctive flavor and texture that others may find worth while exploring. If two people ordered exactly the following list with any choice of bread*, it would be a wonderful introduction to the variety available at Madras Mahal for around $50.

          Hors D'oeuvres - four of their most popular fried appetizers
          Raita - excellent cool accompaniment to those intensely flavored fried appetizers
          Vegetable Korma Curry - a robust whipped cheesy dish that compliments their Breads*
          Whole Moog Curry - chunky with a pleasant sweet & sour kick that's great with the rice.
          Mango Lassi Drink - thick not too sweet beverage, available even thicker without milk
          Gulab Jamun Dessert - very sweet, gummy and citric with a spearmint aftertaste

          The only real disappointment were the two dishes with eggplant in
          them that were very bland and soft textured. I love ordering eggplant
          dishes in Mediterranean restaurants, so these Indian dish's complete
          lack of character really surprised me.

          If you have been to Madras Mahal a few times already, also
          give Chennai Garden, 129 E 27th, a try, which is a variation
          of the same menu from the original owners of Madras Mahal.
          Check first to make sure their Kosher is up to your standards.

          * would also compliment any Potato Dosai Masala Entrees in place of their Breads.

          1. re: Joe Berger
            c
            Clarissa Apr 25, 2007 02:48 PM

            Eight people ordering a variety and tasting everything sounds like heaven to me. One note: I must confess that I'm not crazy about their Gulab Jamun. I find it heavier than those I've tasted elsewhere. I like when the inside has an almost custardy quality. I also don't recall a spearmint aftertaste -- maybe they've changed it since I've tried it there. I can't comment on the eggplant dishes, as I don't eat eggplant.

            Sounds like you had a nice evening, with all that sampling.

            1. re: Clarissa
              Joe Berger Apr 25, 2007 02:57 PM

              I'd have to concede their desserts are not their strong suit.
              I also tried the Kulfi pistachio ice cream, and found it too
              hard and chalky for my taste. I'm sure the Gulab Jamun
              can use improvement as mostly it's uniqueness intrigued me,
              so would I return for another meal, I would not order it again.
              However, all the rest I would not hesitate to re-order.

              1. re: Joe Berger
                c
                Clarissa Apr 25, 2007 03:48 PM

                As I mentioned above, my favorite dessert there is Gajar Halwa. Like most Indian desserts, they taste better than they sound when described -- after all, Gulab Jamun is fried cheese balls in a sweet sauce. The Gajar Halwa is grated carrot in this sweet stuff with these white things (sweet cheese? not sure), cashews and raisins. I promise, once again, it's better than it sounds. I can't recall what other desserts I've tried there, other than those two. I'm a big fan of Indian desserts, and actually once posted a question on the Manhattan board about finding the best Indian desserts in the city.

                1. re: Clarissa
                  Joe Berger Apr 25, 2007 04:01 PM

                  you know what's funny... several recommended the Gajar Halwa, yet my pallet was so tired by meal end, I thought Kulfi would be a reliable choice; boy was I wrong. oh well, now I have another excuse to go back there ;^)

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