Sun-Thu, noon-10pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10:30pm
6 at 28th St.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
17th St. to 37th St., FDR Dr. to Eighth Ave.
Vegetarian and kosher need not mean restrictive. South Indian food is actually kind of fun, since some of the food, which you eat with your fingers, balloons when cooked into unusual shapes. The uninitiated must try some variation of this region's starchy dosai, a crispy, giant, parchment-like rice-and-lentil-flour "crepe" extruded into the shape of a giant bugle then stuffed with spiced potatoes. Tear off a piece and dip it into coconut chutney or rasam, a vegetable and lentil spiced stew. Uttappam, thick pancakes, come with various cooked-in fillings while the disc-shaped idlis, steamed rice cakes, float in bowls of a spicy sambar sauce that's packed, unusually, with turnips, onions, cilantro, and carrots. Kachori, chick pea-flour balls fried to a light, golden consistency and stuffed with mashed peas and onions are served with earthy, tangy tamarind sauce and mint chutney that taste as if they've just been ground and blended. Regional dishes from the northwestern, mostly vegetarian state of Gujarat and meat-eating Punjab, in the far north, are also represented and include sweet-and-sour Gujarati entrées, plus the familiar Punjabi-style dishes known to most as typical Indian food. The narrow, space is spare except for kathakali masks (worn by dancers) mounted on wood panels.
Iddly in sambar bowl, $4.95; uttappam, $7.95; dosai, $7.95-$8.95