Madura Indian Cuisine in Sunnyvale
This mall at Hollenbeck and Homestead in Sunnyvale has some good chow! Today I tried out Madura Indian Cuisine, a vegetarian restaurant serving Tamil Nadu cuisine. I tried the masala dosa. The dosa itself was good though not quite as intense as at Madras Cuisine. However, the chutneys were exceptional, particularly the tomato and coconut chutneys. These are probably the best I've had.
I've amused Melanie with this comparison before, but dosa variations seem to be like barbecue variations. Madras Cafe is more like Texas style where the dosa is the star and the chutney, if any, is secondary; Madura is more like Kansas City where the chutney plays a more central role, though the dosa itself is still very important. One's not better than the other, it's just a different stylistic emphasis. I have no idea if this reflects regional variations or chef variations, but it's great to have both alternatives.
Now to explore more of the menu, which includes a few dishes new to me - and I expect some other familiar dishes will be given different twists as well.
Madura Indian Cuisine
1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Bumping this thread in yet another "mdg" fangirl post, had a chance to try out Madura a couple months ago.
Normally the first thing I'd order at a place like this would be a plain dosa. But since it was the weekend, I took advantage of the timing to try one of the weekend specials, Adai Avial. The adai was lovely with plenty of browned crispy areas though next time I'd ask them to not put the dish of avial on top as it made the pancake soggy underneath. Studded with red onion and fresh jalapeño chile, the chile peppers were shaved so thin that it was indeed possible for me to eat them all without passing out from flames. The avial was tinged green rather than a creamy coconut white. Maybe the color fooled the palate but the taste seemed that much more complex.
Speaking of the weekend specials, I think I found my favorite dosa: the Special Onion Rava Masala Dosa. It's like a typical rava dosa with embedded onions and potato curry, but it also contains a generous dusting of a ground nut (pistachio and cashew) and spices. So very good!
The masala chai seems on par with SB's and DP's. It's strong, and comes unsweetened, with sweetenings on the side.
I've had the sweet lassi a couple more times, and the quality seems erratic. One night it tasted like coconut milk was mixed in (perhaps by accident).
Has anyone tried the cheese and/or panir dosas? There might be a difference, since at SB (for example) the cheese is melted, kind of like Monterey Jack-like, but rather heavy and unappealing. I've also had a panir dosa elsewhere, where the cheese remains crumbly, often mixed with chilies and/or onions -- which I prefer.
Madura has updated their menu this week, so that the weekend specials are no longer on a separate menu. Some items like the special rava dosa have made it to the daily menu; some like the adai avial are still weekends only; and some like the iddiappam have disappeared. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else order the iddiappam on many visits there, so that wasn't such a surprise.
I had the adai avial last week and it was as superbly tasty as before. I really do need to try the uthappam and bread dishes here, but today I tried the paper roast dosa. I should have reviewed this post beforehand; it was great but way too big for me. A few weeks ago I tried the executive lunch, which is a wonderful assortment a different outstanding rich dishes.
The cheese dosa was not my favorite; I was expecting something like paneer but instead it was kind of a cheddary cheese. The paneer dosa was a weekend-only special; I forget where it has wound up on the new menu.
Venturing beyond the usual suspects, I tried the iddiappam at Madura today. It's one of their weekend specials. Thin rice noodles are served with a choice between two dips - mine was a mix of cocount milk and vegetables. I haven't seen this on any other menus in the area. It was tasty and fun to try.
We came here last Saturday night, with tired and overly hungry kids and were not disappointed. We hit Dosa place frequently, and madras Cafe, so those are our comparisons.
The chutneys were good and unusual. The green seemed to have a strong sour mango component went we went and the tomato a cinnamon spicey component different from elsewhere. Coconut was just fine - nothing exciting. Sambar was good balanced in flavor. Thin style, but one of the better ones. i prefer the dosa itself at other places, but it was good - my son got the plain masala dosa. my other son got the kids plate which came with mini idlis and dosa - a good option for kids at $5. Our regular sized idlis were drier and denser than Dosa Places, but better than some others we have had. I am not sure i would get them there again. The winner of the night was a special mixed lentil pancake with onions, served with a coconut curry. Sooo good. Also tried the curd rice. Husband liked it with the pickles - I am not a huge curd rice fan. The tamarind seemed tastier as other tables were getting it. we left $27 poorer, but still a bit hungry. Home to some fruit and veggies for dessert. Then again we served a family of 5 (baby ate more than we thought he would).
We've been Madura a couple of times. I enjoyed the onion rava masala dosa -- the potato-onion filling was pleasantly hot, unlike some places where I could tell it was recently in the fridge. The chutneys that came with the dosa were tasty, especially the cilantro-mint one, probably the best of its kind that I've had. There wasn't any fresh tomato chutney like SB's. In fact I think several of the Yelp photos are misleading, since the photo of the channa batura showed 3 pieces of bread; the resto version only had 1 large one. Good bread, though, and slightly sweet enough that it reminded me of...doughnuts. ;)
Both the channa and sambar have a strong cinnamon component, which I don't mind. The venn pongal was delicious and buttery, quite an excellent companion to the idli and vada. And the vada? The best I've had in my limited experience. At other places, they've been dense and barely warm. Madura's are fluffy, hot with a nice crispy crust. Great for dunking in sambar, yogurt or chutneys.
This was the first time I've had ildis, so again I'm no pro there. They seemed tender, not too heavy -- again good for dunking in sambar, yogurt and chutneys.
We tried a thali, and while interesting, it didn't seem of as high quality as Dasaprakash's. the dishes seemed a bit on the salty side. But I'd be willing to try it again.
Added later: The sweet lassi was thick, tasty, and not overly sweet. The buttermilk was only mildly salty and contained some ginger, herbs (cilantro?) and mung beans (or hulled lentils). Both drinks soothed the spiciness. Next time I'll have to try the mango lassi and/or masala tea.
The service is definitely a relief from SB's, so this place has potential to be on our South Indian resto rotation. :) I'll continue going to SB or DP, because they have some rice dishes I haven't tried yet, as well as some other dosas I enjoy (pesseret, made from whole green mung beans, and adai, made from yellow mung beans, lentils and maybe chickpeas?). But I'm happy to have discovered Madura.
Thanks for posting about this place, Michael! I'm always curious about new (to me, at least) Indian restaurants.
I wonder how it compares with Saravana Bhavan? From the photos on the Yelp page, it looks like they might serve a tomato chutney similar to SB's -- one of my favorites -- which I haven't seen served elsewhere.
Has anyone tried their thalis?
I'm a big fan of their thalis (special dinner). It is very generous and I can never finish it all. I find more variety in the vegetable curries in their thali than in other indian restaurants. I prefer Saravana's rava dosa (my favorite type), but since Madura opened we rarely visit SB anymore; Madura is just so much more pleasant than the SB madhouse.
Another vote for the thali / special dinner. It came out instantly, so the fried items weren't ideally fresh and crispy, but everything else was nice and vibrant with flavor. Zartemis is spot on about the more distinct variety of tastes than is common at other vegetarian places.