If you plan to adopt a vegan lifestyle, I strongly suggest opening your minds (and your mouths) to experimenting with all types of ethnic foods. Before I adopted a plant-based diet, I was not one to dine at Thai, Indian or other ethnic restaurants. I have since learned to expand my horizons since ethnic foods, quite easily, lend themselves to a vegetarian diet. Many Thai dishes are made with coconut milk and coconut oil. Japanese restaurants serve vegetable sushi rolls, seaweed salad, miso soup and veggie stir-fries. I had an amazing zucchini “spaghetti” marinara (the zucchini was actually the “spaghetti”) at a local Italian restaurant the other day.
It appears to me that no ethnic food lends itself to veganism more than Indian food, especially Southern Indian food. Although I do not have much experience with Indian food, I was truly blown away by my recent meal at Sapthagiri Pure Vegetarian South and North Indian Restaurant located at 804 Newark Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey. If you have any interest at all in indulging in some fabulous Indian food and culture, I strongly suggest that you head to the “Little India” section of Jersey City located on Newark Avenue between Kennedy Boulevard and Tonnelle Avenue.
The menu at Sapthagiri is extensive and the vegan options (there are so many) are clearly marked. At the suggestion of my brother who has been a vegetarian for many years (he is now a vegan) and an Indian food lover, I ordered the Vegan Thali. “Thali” is an Indian meal made up of a selection of various dishes which are usually served in small bowls on a round tray. Here is a photo of the Vegan Thali I ordered at Sapthagiri…
Pretty, huh? The feast included various veggie dishes mixed with lentils, beans and spices, as well as soups, pickles, rice and chapati bread. The only dish I was familiar with was the Chana Masala, a spicy stew made with chickpeas. Everything was really delicious and my brother stated that this may have been the best Thali meal he has ever had (which is quite a statement as he is a longtime fan of Indian food). In fact, when I suggested returning to Jersey City’s “Little India” to try a different restaurant, he stated that he would want to go right back to Sapthagiri again before trying any others.
In addition to the wonderful Vegan Thali, some of the other vegan dishes at Sapthagiri included a wide variety of dosas (or crepes), rice specialties, curries, soups, uttappams (crisp crepe-like dishes made by cooking ingredients in a batter) and a large assortment of appetizers. You may be interested to know that the restaurant is Kosher and has gluten-free, low carb and low fat options too. I will not hesitate to return to Sapthagiri to sample some of the other dishes.
On a side note, I recently purchased Chloe Coscarelli’s new cookbook “Chloe’s Kitchen” which looks terrific! Of significance, is Chloe’s 4 page spread on how to prepare an Indian Buffet which includes a gorgeous photograph. I can’t wait to tackle this recipe myself. Chloe gives some tips on making some of the foods for the buffet in advance which is quite appealing to me.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed my little review and that it wet your appetite for some good, spicy Indian food. Bye, now!