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Tag: snacks (page 2 of 2)

Back to Udipi!

There was a week when we visited Udipi Cafe twice. Let me recall. Yes, we were planning to go to this nice-sounding Italian place but P had had such a bad case of sniffles and sneezes that he really wanted to slurp up some spicy tomato rasam. That is one delicious way to open up your sinuses, for sure! Now I have been battling a bad case of Pitta aggravation since some days now. I am no expert on Ayurveda but this is a familiar situation for me as it isn’t the first time. Long story short, tomatoes are a major cause of Pitta aggravation. So also is tamarind. Suffices to say that I wasn’t sure what I would find to eat at an obviously South Indian food place. But I agreed to go along (also I hardly ever say ‘No’ to anything P asks for – my weakness, obviously.)

So we landed up at Udipi Cafe, Smyrna. I don’t know what it is about many Indian restaurants and service. As the server ushers you in, how difficult can it be for him to have a smile on his face? Seriously, the guy who showed us to our seats was glowering. I have had the same experience at Udipi Cafe, Decatur as well. It’s truly odd. Let me not get started about how they always have the cleaning supplies in full display of the restaurant. Who wants to see spray bottles and dish cloths while eating delicious food? Not me.

Ok, let me get on to the food. P ordered the Pongal-Vada combination and I ordered a plate of Pesarattu-Upma. Pretty soon, we switched.

Pongal is a traditional South Indian preparation of rice, dal, whole black peppers, cashews, lots of heavenly ghee. It is comfort food at its finest and healthiest. And it is panacea for my Pitta-aggravated soul and body. P offered me a taste and then the entire plate itself. The sides were sambar and coconut chutney. I pretty much cleaned up the coconut chutney but the sambar, as delicious as it looked, I had to avoid. Tomatoes + red chillies + tamarind is a lethal combination for me, at the moment. The Vada was delicious too! Not greasy at all, it was very nicely spiced and had the perfect “crunch” in your mouth.

The Pesarattu-Upma was a good combination too. Now I have been making a lot of Pesarattu in the last few weeks. It is basically a batter of soaked whole moong dal, spiced with cumin, ginger and green chillies, that you make dosas out of. Very delicious and healthy, indeed. These dosas were fairly decent although they lacked that freshness which I have come to associate with this preparation.

I like the food served at this place. The service is decent too. I wish they’d move the cart of cleaning supplies someplace out of sight. Maybe ask the servers to smile a little? Is that asking for a lot?

Udipi Cafe in Smyrna!

If I have my facts right, Udipi Cafe had its first branch in Decatur, then another on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, and now there’s one in Smyrna. I haven’t visited the one in Decatur much but the one on Peachtree, I have. I really like the decor (dark orange-saffron walls, wooden chairs, quietly festive, if I can call it that). The food is really nice; none of those scary-looking red gravies or overly spiced/greasy vegetable dishes. The food has an almost homely quality to it. In fact, I am guessing that the owner hails from Udupi, a region in Karnataka, India. A fact that registers rather well in the cooking although experts may disagree. 

Anyway, we visited the Smyrna location for lunch yesterday.

It’s open from 11am to 3pm for lunch. We reached about 2:15pm. There were a few diners, and we had the place almost to ourselves. I had heard from friends that the place had been open two days only, and that people have been thronging… makes me happy.

We made a beeline for the buffet which looked real good. I made a meal of all the South Indian items — idlis, masala dosa, onion pakodas (a tad tough, unfortunately), alu tikkis (wonderfully moist and crisp at the same time), and an amazing array of chutneys and sambar.

P helped himself to some of the other buffet items — sauteed cauliflower and beans, zucchini and carrots in a tomato-based gravy, a mint-flavored vegetable dish with green peas. I was too busy slurping up the South Indian snacks on my plate to even taste anything from his plate.

What I really like about Udupi Cafe is that the food tastes authentic. You know all those Indian restaurants (put together an algorithm to create names, throw in ‘India’, ‘Bombay’, ‘Delhi’, ‘Madras’, ‘Palace’, ‘Garden’, ‘Taj’… and you get the name you want) that serve the same red slop with the one flavor of onion-garlic-red chillies. That isn’t Indian cuisine at all.

Let me rephrase, that is the ‘Indian restaurant in the USA’ cuisine. Not authentic by any stretch of the imagination.

Thankfully, Udupi Cafe beats the trend. Btw, the location on Peachtree has this wonderful dish on the menu called Set Dosa with Kurma. A set of six (?) mini dosas arrive with the ubiquitous chutneys and sambhar in cute steel bowls and the piece de resistance, the kurma. Think vegetables (carrots, peas, beans) in a coconut-based gravy, intensely flavored with pepper, coriander, cardamom (and probably some other spices that my taste buds couldn’t register), the Kurma is a perfect foil to the oh-so-soft dosas. I should also mention the sambhar at Udupi is perfectly spiced, every time.

Since the restaurant was near closing time yesterday, the server got me a bowl of sweet and cool rasmalai. I would also recommend the South Indian filter coffee, a most excellent ending to a wonderful meal.