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Surati Farsan Mart (San Diego)

I know I see this place mentioned whenever anyone asks about Indian food, but I really don't think their praises are sung highly enough. About 2 months ago I had the extreme displeasure of having lunch at Royal India downtown. We ordered off the menu, and I was floored when the check came. $50 for two people, eating vegetarian food for lunch, with no alcohol involved - and the food was exceedingly average, adding much insult to injury.

Surati Farsan, on the other hand, is always good, always fresh, and incredibly cheap.

Today I stopped by on my way to Ker, and got two items that were relatively new to me: khandvi, and ragda samosa. Khandvi is only available on weekends, and is made from garam flour, steamed in flat sheets about 1/16" thick, rolled up, topped with mustard seed, sesame seed, fresh cilantro and coconut, and served with spicy cilantro chutney. Ragda samosa is two samosas (awesome), filled with spicy vegetable curry, and served in a bowl with curried peas, tamarind chutney, and fresh onions.

Both were great. The khandvi are really refreshing, served cool, but spicy from the seasoning. The ragda samosa was also quite spicy, but the sweet/sour of the tamarind chutney made it a lot more interesting.

Other items I've had here that were great were the masala dosa, mysore masala dosa, idli sambar (steamed lentil flour bread with spicy soup), and khaman.

Definitely don't miss sampling some of the sweets. In particular the penda are good (yellow discs made from solidified milk), and the koprapak (coconut, sugar, and cardamom seeds).

Prices here are crazy cheap, too - my dinner tonight was under $7. Two can eat very well for under $20.

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  1. Damn Josh those dishes sound amazing - invite me next time you go!

    The single time I was there i got the thali which was stupid of me but some things were good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kare_raisu

      My first visit there I got the thali and was pretty underwhelmed by it. That prevented me from going back for a while. I finally went a few months later and ordered regular menu items and was much happier.

    2. Huzzah for you championing Surati Farsan Mart. I don't know why it's so hard to get people to try this place, (location, menu style, or the "Mart" at the end of the name?). In any case, glad to hear it!

      1. I think I prefer the chole samosa to the ragda samosa there but both are fantastic. The mysore masala dosa might be one of my favorite things to eat in San Diego.

        I haven't been a couple weeks so I guess I should hit it up for lunch one day this week. Note that they are closed on Mondays though.

        1. The cool thing about Surati Farsan is you go in there and 90% of the costumers are south Asian. The food is very authentic.

          1. i can't agree more! this place is great, and completely unlike any most indian restaurants (ie. not just curries). can't wait to go on a weekend and try khandvi!

            my favourite dish is dehli chaat -- a cold dish of some fried cereal-type snack with yogurt and green chutney spooned over it. crunchy-sour-sweet combo is amazing.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kudru

              Surati Farsan is great.The Mysore Masala Dosa, Chole Samosa, Ragda Petish, Bhel Puri are all fabulous. The prices are super-cheap and the staff is patient and helpful. Sorry to reiterate the above, but there are not enough good things to say about this place.

              I don't know why I wasted so many years trying to find good Indian food downtown or in Hillcrest. That strip-mall off Black Mountain Rd. is a goldmine for the good stuff. It's too bad I live in Golden Hill and they're all the way up by Miramar.

              1. re: 5881EL34

                Having tried both the chole samosa and the ragda petish, I think I prefer the flavor of the garbanzo bean "soup" and the texture/spiciness of the samosa to the petish

            2. This is one of our favorite places to eat! Their dry potato curry is excellent, as is the mysore masala dosa. I really love the sweet, creamy cheese you smear on poori (can't remember the name). It's like eating a creamy, not as sweet buttercream frosting. Our problem is we tend to order too much and can't eat it all up!

              4 Replies
              1. re: daantaat

                I believe you are thinking of "shrikhand poori " ,
                shrikhand is sweetened high fat ,strained yogurt, something like kefir cheese with sugar , saffron and nuts.
                Surati FM makes it really yummmmmmy

                1. re: JiyoHappy

                  Wow, I will have to try that. Sounds amazing.

                  1. re: JiyoHappy

                    Its not far from where I work. Have to agree its one of the better Indian places around and unique as well. Been there twice recently:

                    Delhi Chaat - As described above but I felt that the sweet sauce was overwhelming, could have done with much less of that.

                    Mysore Masala Dosa - Huge and tasty but too much of one thing.

                    I wanted to try the Khandvi but they only have on weekend so I got Khaman which is similar thought it was good.

                    Moong Dal - Just kinda average, the Rotis that came with it where good.

                    I am still trying to learn the menu here, I have to study the web site before I go to look at the pictures and decide what I might get. I kind of feel dumb ordering not sure what I am doing.

                    Madras cafe across the parking lot has similar food I usually get the lunch buffet but then I eat too much.

                    1. re: JiyoHappy

                      yes, that is exactly what I was thinking of!

                  2. Thanks for the reminder Josh. I had been wanting to try this place for a while and thanks to your post I went there tonight. I tried the chloe samosa, maysore masala dosa, delhi chaat, and the lychee shake. The samosa was good, although I didn't realize that it came in a chickpea dish. The chaat was recommended by someone working there and was refreshing, especially compared to the maysore which was really good but may have had too much kick for my liking. He did warn us. I got some desserts to go and have not tried them yet because I was too stuffed. The portions are all good sized and 3 items was more than enough for the 2 of us. Including the drink it was $16--a great deal and I will definitely go back. I wanted to stop by Ker but didn't get the chance. Anything in particular worth getting there. It looked overwhelming. Thanks again for pushing me towards this place.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sdaints

                      So glad you enjoyed it. Since my last visit to Ker, I've been to North Park Produce, and that's a good alternative - even better in some ways.

                      Ker is great in a lot of ways, but their dry goods, like the various daal legumes and rice, come in pretty sizable packages. I bought four different daal legumes there, and the smallest package was 2 lbs. North Park Produce has a lot of the same legumes sold out of bulk bins, so if you're more of an occasional Indian cook it's easier to manage.

                      That said, Ker is great for Indian spices. I have an Indian cookbook that describes how to make your own masalas from whole spices, and I bought all my spices at Ker. This definitely makes a huge difference over buying pre-made spice powders. The flavors are much more intense.

                      The Indian produce at Ker is also good. Lots of vegetables you won't find elsewhere (apart from North Park Produce).

                      This week I'm going to try my hand at making sambar (the spicy vegetable soup accompanying your dosa), and this weekend I'm going to attempt dosa from scratch.

                      1. re: Josh

                        Thanks. I have heard of North Park but I have not been there yet either. That is impressive that you are attempting those dishes. If you are happy with you they turn out I may want the recipes. I found the soup that they served to be a nice accompaniment to the dosa but I was not crazy about the soup on its own.

                        As for meat serving Indian, I went to Ashoka about a year ago (in the same strip mall as Surati) and thought it was pretty good. In Hillcrest, Bombay is not bad. I was not crazy with India Princess and really didn't like the one on 6th and University.

                        1. re: sdaints

                          Ashoka is OK, but Punjabi Tandoor around the corner kills it every which way possible. Great spot for North Indian cooking. Dosa seems pretty easy, based on the recipes I've read.

                    2. This is the only indian place in SD that had me coming back after a first visit. My GF is almost a vegetarian, so we've been going here fairly regularly. We've really enjoyed most of our dishes here, though I was a little disappointed in the vadas. Our favorites our the Bhel Puri and the Sev Puri. The Bhel puri is a cereal-like mixture with onions, beans and i think potatoes served in a bowl and the sev puri is little fried puris with the tops removed and a filling similar to the bhel puri inside. I agree that the prices are really nice for the food you get here and I'm sure we'll return soon.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jasont

                        Any rec's for great San Diego Indian that serve MEAT(ie. lamb or chicken)?

                        Best Regards,

                        STeven Garsson

                        1. re: STevenGarsson

                          Punjabi Tandoor, around the corner from Surati Farsan on Activity Rd. Chicken Makhini is incredible.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Thank you very much, Josh!

                            Best Regards,

                            STeven Garsson

                      2. The power of a chowhound post!

                        Today I went for lunch and I started to fall in love with the place. I am glad you posted and reminded me of the place Josh. I was ready to dismiss it after that 'meh' thali.

                        I had the chole samosa and dehli chaat. Together, the pair were a gastronomic ying yang. I loved taking intermittent bites between the spicy warm, stew like tapa of chickpeas with crisp comforting samosa floating atop and the cool, rich yogurt enlivened with green chutney and chile powder covering the crispy mix and cold cooked potatoes and garbanzos.

                        And the prices!

                        Thanks again Josh

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          Awesome, glad to hear you had a good experience. Dehli Chaat sounds awesome, will have to try that next time.

                        2. I was coming south fro Riv. Co. today and swung into to the busiest time I have ever seen at SF for Takeout work lunch.

                          It was so hot so I got my favorite thing I have had so far, the Delhi Chaat and the weekend only steamed mungbean or garbanzo rolled sheets with mustard seeds and other spices.

                          Those round rolled sheets - were very pasta like and quite delicate - topped with cilantro and served with a green chutney - very unique and delicious.

                          Dehli Chaat was deconstruted for assembling a la minute which I appreciated but I felt a little chinzed by the less amount to good. Still it was AMAZING. Cool, spicy, crunchy, creamy, bright, sweet - it messes with your senses.

                          I also picked up some desserts for the first time - glad I did. I got a fig-pistachio pressed cake which was very nice, but I loved the barfi with its saffron, peppercorn flavor. Also had a yellow tinted coconut thing which was legit.

                          Please go here if you haven't yet.

                          1. Jeez this place is good, I went back again today for lunch.

                            This time I had the Idli Sahmbar and Pani Puri with the Falooda for dessert.

                            The steamed rice cakes were really good - another surati plate that demonstrates their ability to exploit contrasts. Hot, salty, spicy bean and tomato heavy sahmbar and cool, rich, bright, sweet coconut chutney to dress your blank rice tamales.

                            I am not sure if I like the Pani Puri more than the Delhi Chaat - its like little crisped puris with their tops off - filled with different small beans and potato cubes and self dressed mint - tamarind water. So Awesome.

                            The Falooda has to be one of my favorite sweet treats I have ever had in San Diego. Its like a rose water milk shake - bright pink with vermicelli and mung bean sized green tapioca pearls. I can still taste the sexy flavor of rose hours later.

                            https://www.suratifarsan.com/docs/din...
                            https://www.suratifarsan.com/docs/din...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              I think the Falooda is pretty trippy too...I think all the tea houses should add this to their menu!

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                How funny, my g/f and I swung through there today on our way back from LA for Dehli Chaat and Khandvi. It was her first visit, so I wanted her to try those. Pani Puri sounds great, will have to try that next time.

                                The Persian markets sell a frozen version of this dessert, spelled Faloudah I think, which is vermicelli in rose water frozen into a sorbet.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  They have a special veg rice with yogurt only on the weekends we should check out one of these days,

                                  I also want to try the lentil dumplings covered with yogurt.

                                  Daantaat - I'd order it over Almond milk tea any day!!!

                              2. Today was very, very good!

                                I had the dahivada -''Steamed and deep fried lentil cakes covered with yogurt and topped with red pepper. Served with tamarind sauce" off the cold chaat list.

                                Their creamy yogurt must have a ton of fat in it but regardless of that it's some of the best yogurt I've had and its so good drowning these lentil flour dumplings. It a little spicy from the red pepper and you can make it a little sweet from the tamarind sauce served on the side with lemon and chopped onion.

                                The moong dal curry was fantastic - I suspect they added some dried mango powder for I slight bright, tang. Cilantro and coriander powder. I am really glad I ugraded the bread to the Menthi Thapla. An off the hook pan fried flat roti like bread - yellow from spices and fenugreek.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  Yeah, that bread is awesome. Super caloric, but very tasty.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    I'll bet you its less caloric than the Puri! That roasty taste of the spices baked into the tortilla is haunting. Add some of that creamy yogurt and bliss.

                                  2. re: kare_raisu

                                    The moong dal curry sounds good; was it a daily special or do they normally serve it? I've never had any of their curries there before.

                                    1. re: DougOLis

                                      I think they normally serve it Doug alongside the dry potato curry and eggplant.

                                      1. re: DougOLis

                                        My favorite way to eat their curries is wrapped in the exemplary dosas.

                                    2. I tried the special weekend only dish of 'mix vegetable rice' yesterday after work with a 'shaak' or curry of gourd and chana dal. I was surprised by how busy it was on a sunday night thirty minutes before closing at 8pm. The tables were almost exclusively occupied by young south Asians just hanging out and sharing/nibbling on small plates almost like in a translation of "Ir de Tapas" or going around tapas eating.

                                      The mix vegetable rice was far from the biriyani I was envisioning. They make almost like a bhaji a pleasantly starchy mashed vegetable curry out of the rice and a ton of vegetables tinted yellow with tumeric . There were interesting whole legumes and peanuts giving texture and the best part was the cup of thin raita they gave you to drink with the curry. This yogurt drink had to be the most perfectly composed raita I have ever experienced. Faintly garlicky, musky from cumin, and spicy just enough to pique your senses, it was great and wonderful to break the taste of the curry with.

                                      1. Thought it was important to let people know about my two latest favorites from Surati - the Weekend only Khichadi Matho. Khichadi is rice and lentils that have been cooked to a softer polenta consistency with vegetables and tempered with spices. It served with Matho - which is an addicting faintly spicy, faintly sweet and barely tart yogurt drink that is paired magnificently with this dish. Bite of the kichadi and swig of the drink....soo good. This is what I consider a fine example of Indian comfort food. I like it so much I've been preparing it at home so I can enjoy it during the week.

                                        Similar to the Matho is the chaash drink which is available everyday and I prefer way over the sweet mango and rose lassis. Its green from a stronger cilantro element and makes perfect drinking alongside almost anything from Surati,

                                        21 Replies
                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          This actually is classic Gujarati comfort food! The only warning, is that sometimes you may bite into a whole clove or piece of cinnamon that can mess your tastebuds up for a little while.
                                          Next time you visit on a weekend, try a plate of Khandvi with the khichdi-matho. They first cook chickpea flour with buttermilk and light seasoning, then spread the doughy mass on a flat surface, let it dry out a little, and cut strips into the flattened dough, and roll it up into little yellow rolls. these are then tempered with mustard seeds, and topped with fresh grated coconut and cilantro - their green chutney goes REALLY well with it.
                                          I've been disappointed with the eggplant curry of late - the spicing hasn't been cutting it, but the chana has been excellent. I think they go through phases, when certain curries don't seem to be quite as good as others - maybe a revolving kitchen staff.
                                          Reading this thread (and some other recent posts) made me realize that there is actually a reasonable variety of regional Indian cuisines to be found in our fair city, even though quality is inconsistent. Probably merits a thread of its own.

                                          1. re: ipsit

                                            Khandvi is my favorite dish there.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              My bad - I missed the mentions of Khandvi at the top of this thread. Have you tried the Sev Khamni there? If you haven't already, you'll probably like it - another classic Gujarati dish that they do right! Would love your take on it.

                                              As such, their menu covers 3 general areas - South Indian, Chaat and Gujarati/farsan (both hot and cold). The Chaat is very good and the South Indian is strictly OK, but the Gujarati food is what they really do well! I'm not a big fan of their sweets - largely because they use powdered milk, rather than fresh, which makes it inedibly dry, for me. All these sweets really have to be made with fresh whole milk and have to be the consistency of fresh ricotta. They do best at the sweets that do not use milk - the anjeer barfi (fig cake) is the only one thats stood out so far.

                                              During a recent visit, I had the ultimate Gujarati breakfast there - the Jalebis were fresh (read hot, and just scooped out of the syrup), and they had Fafda - the long, yellow besan fries, that they occasionally have - If they dont have fafda, you could get any of the thick Sevs) and a cup of masala chai (perfect for this weather). The Methi Khakhra was also fresh that day - took a couple of packets home - good times!

                                              1. re: ipsit

                                                You are a wealth of knowledge! You should host a chowdown there so you can school all of us Westerners on proper Gujarati cuisine.

                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                  Wow, I had read about fafda being a common breakfast food in West India in a Lonely Planet India Food book. Had no clue it was available at Surati. When is it available? Is it served with anything? What should I ask for? Is there anything else off-menu available at Surati?

                                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                                    The Fafda is actually on their menu - look for it in the farsan section - Ive seen fafda several times in the farsan rack. They also have jalebis most of the time. I think the key is being there when those items are freshly prepared - no idea when that is, but I will check next time I go there - If anyone else finds out n the meantime, that is actually really useful information.
                                                    This time of year, be sure to ask about Undhiyu. I think they only have it on weekends. Thats another gujarati classic (hard to describe, but at heart, its a shaak of mixed vegetables with flour dumplings), and usually available in winters, since the key ingredient is 'papdi' - a special bean for which I do not now the English translation - and thats a seasonal vegetable. If you find Undhiyu in summer, its a virtual guarantee that they've substituted papdi with some other type of bean. I like to eat undhiyu with puris, a side of matho and sprinkly some sev on top (the non spicy, thin variant). Actually I havent had it at SFM in a while. Need ot had out there and see f theyre making it yet.

                                                    1. re: ipsit

                                                      Hi Ipsit
                                                      I had the Undhiyu yesterday with the puris as was recommended. It was very tasty albeit a tad on the oily side. Do you know anywhere else I can get pani puris in san diego? I never not order them when i visit.

                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                        Glad you made it - when were you there on sunday? We may have been there at the same time! I just picked up a couple of packets of khakhra and left though - did not eat in. I agree that their undhiyu is a little oilier than I would like - matho and sev helps a little bit.

                                                        I can't recall finding pani puri anywhere other than SFM in San Diego - Artesia is the closest I can think of. But SFM does a good pani puri - though I really wish they were more generous with the quantity of the pani - The proportion per puri should be 65% pani, 35% everything else. If you wanted to take a crack at a homemade version, its pretty easy (we do it regularly at home) - and probably better than SFM. Everything you need can be found at Bombay Bazaar or one of the other Indian grocery stores. Probably too much to do for a solo diner, but if you have 3-4 people its a great communal meal!

                                                        - For the pani, get a packet of Badshah Pani Puri Masala and follow their instructions. Add some fresh crushed mint leaves to the pani for extra flavor alternately. Some stores have fresh pani puri masa, which is crushed mint and a bunch of other spices. I usually mix fresh masala and dry masala to achieve a balance and then add crushed mint. Pani is best preapred 3-4 hours in advance so the spices blend well
                                                        - a bag of puris (check to make sure the majority are intact and not cracked).
                                                        - For the sweet chutney, any brand of tamarind paste, diluted with water and then mix some jaggery in it - proportion can be adjusted to desired level of sweetness. I always blend in a few dates for extra flavor
                                                        - There really are no rules as to what the solid stuffing can be. Steamed mung beans, black chickpeas, potatoes are standard, but you can do spicy mashed potatoes, chickpea stew (ragda) or even go straight chutney and water.
                                                        - On the streets of Bombay, vendors will throw in a plain puri every 4-5 puris to give your tastebuds a break, and after you finish a plate (8-9 puris) you finish with a puri that has just potato and a little dry chaat or pani puri masala, as a palate cleanser
                                                        If you do take a crack at it, I'd love to know what you did and how it turned out

                                                        1. re: ipsit

                                                          Thanks for your pani puri recipe! Next time I'm up I'll give it a go and let you know!

                                                          1. re: ipsit

                                                            I wanted to ask you what you thought of the Pav Bhaji here? I strangely get cravings for it. The white buttered hamburger buns strangely go so soo good with the curried mash.

                                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                                              that's funny that you crave it! for us, it was one of the more forgettable items on the menu. I think it had something to do w/ the buns being too soft for us.

                                                              1. re: daantaat

                                                                with the lemon juice and chopped raw onion its sooo good!

                                                    2. re: ipsit

                                                      With roots in Mumbai, Im somewhat of a pav bhaji snob. Actually my primary issue with the pav bhaji at SFM is the same as daantaats i.e. the buns (pav). The classic pav for pav bhaji is crusty square buns with high yeast (so there is a fair amount of rise and a lot of holes in the body of the bread for butter and curry to fill up. Hamburger buns are way too soft - soft buns are also the reason I avoid the vada pav at SFM. Same problem. Vada pav - another Mumbai street food icon is eaten in square, yeasty crusty buns.

                                                      Is it fair to expect the same taste and quality of bread here, that I do from the streets of Mumbai - no it isnt. But hamburger buns is cutting one corner too many. They can definitely get a better approximation of Mumbai pav.

                                                      The bhaji at SFM is pretty good and the onion/lime side is also spot on - though personally I like a little extra cilantro. They do skimp on the butter though. Good bhaji has to be topped off with at least 1.5 tablespoons of butter. When done perfectly, the smoothness of the butter should cut through the bite of the spices, tang of the lime and pungence of the onions. The buttery foundation is often missing at SFM.

                                                      1. re: ipsit

                                                        would a toasted brioche or ciabatta bun be a better approximation of the buns in Mumbai?

                                                      2. re: ipsit

                                                        Toasting doesn't work, though using ciabatta could.
                                                        Mumbai pav is a much smaller square. A baguette, but as a 2" x 2" square roll - that would come pretty close. Crust is the key.

                                                    3. re: ipsit

                                                      I really like their rotis that they serve the curries with - its almost like a more delicate, thin flour tortilla.

                                                      Which Indian dishes are you particularly impressed with in San Diego ipsit?

                                                      1. re: kare_raisu

                                                        Has anyone tried that curry truck (I'd calling it that for lack of a better name; it's like a taco truck but for Indian food) down the hill from FS? It's supposed to be located near the AM/PM where Kearney Villa and Black Mountain road meet.

                                                        1. re: oerdin

                                                          Some people seem to have checked it out, including myself (twice)- let's call it the 'Dosa Truck' - easier and accurate! IMO, its the best south Indian food in town - check it out if you have a chance, and please let us know what you think

                                                        2. re: kare_raisu

                                                          Love the rotlis and the theplas, and your tortilla comparison is spot on - I've resorted to store bought floud tortillas as a substitute at home on several occassion. I noticed that you were not too impresed with the thali, and I agree - its probably the weakest Gujarati thing on the menu.
                                                          For a MUCH superior thali experience (probably the closest Ive found to a Thali meal in India), check out Rajdhani in Artesia when you go up that way. Its on the Indian strip along Pioneer Blvd. To answer your question about my favorite Indian dishes in San Diego, probably needs a separate thread - it would be great to hear from others on favorite Indian dishes (not restaurants).

                                                          1. re: ipsit

                                                            Ive been meaning to check out Rajdhani since reading the Jonathan gold piece in the LA weekly. Now I really got to get there! What other places do you like in Artesia?

                                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                                              Don't know that strip too well, since I havent been in these parts too long. Nonetheless, based on my limited exerience...

                                                              - Rajdhani is excellent. They do thali the traditional way - i.e., you're given an empty plate at the start and servers walk around with bowls/plates of farsan, chutneys, dals, shaaks, rotlis and rice. The menu changes everyday, so I'm not sure what the specials are, but I loved the Gujarati dal there. It is thinner than the Punjabi dals, sweeter and cooked with boiled peanuts. They will stop by your table periodically and check what you're low on, and refill as needed (I always land up overeating at thali places as a result - it can be hard to know when to stop). The rotlis are fresh, hot and topped with ghee, theres khichdi after the rice and theres a desert too, the chaash (served in unlimited quantities) rocked! I tried the rose ice cream with falooda for desert, and liked it. The service format is a little bit like dim sum places - The food is uniformly excellent ad worth t he drive.
                                                              - I thought Jay Bharat was OK, but liked the Kathiawadi thali, mainly the Bajra (grey millet) rotla there. Its coarse, and earthy in flavor...and grey in color. Bajra rotla with ghee and eaten simply with some jaggery (or solid molasses) - thats another REALLY traditional Gujarati meal right there. Ive never tried the Surati Farsan Mart in Artesia - folks who have tried both claim that the San Diego one is better, though I've never figured why they felt so.
                                                              - I tried Udipi Bhavan once and wasnt especially impressed. Tirupati Bhimas, which is on the same strip is supposed to be good, but I havent been there yet. The other Indian places Ive like in the LA area are both in Culver City (Samosa House and Annapurna)
                                                              LA has a larger Indian community by far, but longtime Indian residents of San Diego feel that the variety and quality of Indian restaurants in San Diego has improved markedly in the last 2 or 3 years. Not sure why that might be, but hopefully they're right, and its continues to get better for us.

                                                    4. Well, it’s been not quite a year since my quick afternoon snack stop at Surati Farsan Mart as I made my way to the airport to fly home. I notice that no one has mentioned the Khasta Kachori yet in this thread, so here goes.

                                                      I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Surati Farsan is a bright, clean and contemporary style chaat and sweets shop. Somehow from the name, I was expecting a musty-smelling grocery store with a greasy food counter tucked into the corner. Nothing like that at all.

                                                      The Khasta kachori, $3.50, featured two large deep-fried puffs filled with variety of legumes, potatoes, and chutneys, then topped with thick yogurt and sev. The yogurt was rich and very tangy and I liked the heavy hand with the fresh, crispy sev loaded on top.
                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                                      When you break into the puffs, the insides flow out like a molten dal lava. Firmish garbanzo beans and cubes of potatoes provide something “meaty” to chew on for a contrast to the flakey puffs and crispy bits. All delicious.
                                                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

                                                      Many thanks to “kare_raisu” for the recommendation!

                                                      -----
                                                      Surati Farsan Mart
                                                      9494 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92126

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        A perfect description of a classic!
                                                        To mix it up, I sometimes ask for it plain - that gets you just the puffs with sweet and savory chutney on the side. The yogurt, potato and chickpeas distract from the primary flavor of the kachori filling, which is quite subtle and easily overwhelmed, especially the touch of fennel seed.
                                                        The way you had it was more the chaat style.

                                                        1. re: ipsit

                                                          I ate there with a friend just recently. The idli sambar was great, as was the masala dosa. The friend ordered a thali--first time she'd had it, didn't know what it was--so I walked her around the various foods, and she liked it very much. Hubby and I will be back here soon, but if you go at lunch, be aware, it gets quite busy, so go early or later.