Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Madras Mahal

We got an anonymous comment on our blog a while back saying that Madras Mahal (at 104 Lexington Ave in Manhattan) has good Dosas and implying that it was more authentic Indian food than the Indian places in Jackson Heights. We decided to check it out. Madras Mahal is vegetarian with non-vegan items clearly denoted on their menu.

This was a fresh veggie salad made of cauliflower, cucumbers, carrots, and chickpeas. The menu said that it came with a lemon vinaigrette dressing, but there were just two lemon slices to squirt on top. While the ingredients were all very crunchy and tasty, this was more of an assembly than a dish. Unless you are craving some raw vegetables, I would skip it for something fancier. -Ev

Batata Vada
One cool thing about Madras Mahal is that, in addition to Northern and Southern Indian dishes, they have dishes from Gujurat, which is India’s western-most state. The Batata Vada was from their Gujurat appetizer menu. It was basically two deep-fried, curried mashed potato balls. By themselves they were good, but what made them great were the dipping sauces. They were served with super-tangy mint chutney and sweet date chutney. The date chutney was especially unique and tasty and we saved some to dip our Dosa in. This appetizer was small but good. -Jim

Masala Dosa
Quite possibly the best Dosa I’ve eaten. Also the most unique Dosa I’ve eaten. The Dosa itself had a nice balance of softness towards the middle, crispiness towards the edges. Inside, there were potatoes, onions, nuts and other goodies. The flavor was very savory, almost like hash browns. MMMMmmm. I loved it! Texturally too this Dosa strayed from other “mashed potato” consistencies I’ve had in the past and instead allowed the ingredients to be more true to their forms. Holy cow. I want another one right now! -Ev

Beingan Bharta
One of the reasons I love Indian food is that it’s never bland. It’s always super-flavorful and rich. But I was a little shocked when I tasted this Beingan Bharta. It did taste similar to other Beingan Bhartas I’ve had, but the flavor was more subdued. It tasted more hearty, earthy, homemade even. It was weird. But it was good! I felt like I was eating a healthier, fresher version of Indian food. It even seemed like the ingredients hadn’t been cooked so severely, and they retained some of their original texture and flavor. It was different from other Northern Indian curries I’ve had, but it was definitely satisfying -Jim

The Bottom Line
Well, thanks to a comment on our blog we have found another great Indian spot. Initially I was scared to go here because, while I knew there were vegan options on the menu, I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to pick things out. Happily, the dairy dishes had a little milk jug next to them on the menu. If this is more authentic Dosa, then I say, YUM to authenticity! I would definitely go back here. The menu is huge and I want to try all the vegan goods they have! (well, maybe not the super spicy Vindaloo.) -ev
Everything here tasted more hearty and homemade than other Indian places we’ve been to. Does that mean it’s more authentic? I don’t know. But if you’re in the mood for something a little different, give Madras Mahal a try. We’ll certainly be going back one of these days. -Jim