Category Archives: Indian

Samosa Houses’s Unique Veggie Burger

Every time I find myself even remotely near Culver City, I make sure to swing by the best Indian restaurant in town–Samosa House.  Recently I had a meeting on the west side so I stopped in to try their veggie burger which has been making the rounds on the blogosphere lately.  Like most Samosa House patrons, I always opt for the combo platter and pay little attention to the other menu items.  I am so happy that Quarrygirl ventured off the beaten path to bring this little gem to our attention, because it is insanely delicious.

The burger tastes like an Indian version of a Big Mac–and I mean that in the best possible way.  It’s not a giant gourmet veggie burger like you might get at Flore or M Cafe.  It’s similar to a more pedestrian burger in size and texture.  The patty is made of potatoes and whole cashews and is slathered with a crunchy peanut concoction as well as onions, tomatoes, and spices.  There are so many layers of flavor.  I simply cannot recommend this burger enough.  If you are driving down Washington Boulevard anytime soon, you must stop in and pick one up.  And at $3.99 a pop, it shant break the bank!

Samosa House
11510 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066
310.398.6766

Flore Cafe’s all-you-can-eat Indian leaves me stuffed like a samosa

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I just got back from stuffing my face full of amazing vegan Indian food at one of Flore Cafe‘s All-You-Can-Eat nights.  Pictured above you can see (from top) aloo gobi, saag paneer, jasmine rice, lentil dal, and flat bread.  Everything was out-of-this-world good. The saag paneer was especially amazing and my dining mate, who I dragged with me, mentioned that the dish may have singlehandedly converted him from Indian food hater to Indian food luvva.  The flatbread was crispy and buttery at the same time.  Delightful iced mint tea was provided to wash it all down.

For dessert, there was a giant bowl of kheer–an Indian rice pudding.  It tasted like your basic delicious rice pudding except for one unqiue element–cilantro!  Who would have thought cilantro would taste good in a creamy dessert?  Not moi!  But it actually added a really interesting and subtle kick.  This photo is extremely unappetizing, but I assure you it tasted far better than it photographs.

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My friend and I arrive around 8:45 and the place was practically empty.  While we were eating a little later than most people tend to have dinner, I was hoping there would be more of a crowd.  Listen up my fellow L.A. vegans!  We need to be supporting vegan establishments like Flore Cafe!  And at ten bucks for all the food you can stuff in your gut, this is a total steal!  I can’t wait to see what all-you-can-eat menus Flore Cafe will have in the future.  Maybe they will do another Indian theme for Diwali next week?  In the meantime, does anyone have a really good recipe for vegan saag paneer?

Flore Cafe

3206 W. Sunset Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA  90026

323.667.0116

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Samosa House! I want to have like 10,000 of your babies!

If I dreamt up my idea of a perfect Indian restaurant it would be exactly like Samosa House. The prices are reasonable, the food is outstanding, the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere is warm and sunny, and there is not an ounce of meat in the whole damn place! The concept basically takes the idea behind India Sweets and Spices–a buffet-style spread with an accompanying grocery store–and makes it good. Whereas Sweets and Spices tend to be dingy and extremely unwelcoming, Samosa House is just the opposite. Let’s start off by talking about the signature dish, the samosa!

These samosas are completely vegan which is a rare find as most samosas use dairy in the dough. When you dip a corner of the perfectly flaky crust into one of the accompanying sauces (cilantro or tamarind) you get a one heavenly bite. At $1.50 a pop these are a great deal–I know because I recently tried to get a bunch of samosas in the valley for a Slumdog Millionaire themed Academy Award party and it was too pricey for this gal’s tight budget!

Onto the main shebang…Samosa House offers ten different entrees that rotate throughout the week. I think the best way to go is to order a combo plate. For $7.99 you get your choice of 3 sides with raita, rice, and two pieces of flat bread (which is really like an Indian tortilla). But wait, you are vegan and you don’t eat the yogurt-based raita! No problem, the kind people at Samosa House will let you have a fourth choice of entree instead!

In my experience, out of the ten entree choices usually six to eight of them are completely vegan. All the staff members know exactly what each dish contains so you don’t have to worry about accidentally chowing down a plate full of ghee. On a recent visit I got this small feast of (clockwise from upper right corner) cauliflower curry, jackfruit, grilled eggplant, and potato curry. All of it was ab-fab.

Samosa House’s jack fruit is the same delectable texture as the jack fruit at Pure Luck. It is delicately seasoned and has quickly become a major favorite at our office. So much so that when we order lunch from there we always get one box filled only with it.

If I’m not very specific about the details of each dish, it’s because I don’t really pay attention. When I go into Samosa House I just point at the four things that look the most scrumptious and I have yet to find a single dish that doesn’t completely hit the spot. On one occasion they had this crazy good soy crumble dish (seen below in the upper right corner.) I couldn’t really pin point any specific flavors but whatever was in it made one awesome little dish. Also seen below are a lentil dal and some chana masala. I just drooled on my petty cash envelope thinking about those crumbles.

In addition to all this good food, Samosa House also offers your usual array of lassis and a case full of Indian sweets. They also sell a pretty big variety of imported candy like Bounty bars and my favorite-pre-vegan-candy-in-the-whole world: Kinder Buenos. When you’re done stuffing your face you should do some shopping in the market for jars of lime pickle or extremely cheap spices. And look out for me because I can’t seem to stay away!

Samosa House
11510 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
310.398.6766

Jumping for Vegan Joy in San Francisco


Ahoy Mates!

I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I seem to be 100 times busier on hiatus than when I was working. Go figure. Anywho, as I mentioned, I made a quick trip to San Francisco last week when I caught a ride with my friend Neal who was driving back to Norcal from San Diego. Therein lies the beauty of being unemployed–I can just decide at the last minute to drive up state in the middle of the week for no other reason than just wanting to be in weather cold enough to actually merit wearing one of my many scarves.

On to the food…

Basically every restaurant we saw looked incredible. I could spend decades there and probably never make it to all the awesome dining options. So for our one day in the big city, we had to choose wisely. I checked out Quarrygirl and To Live and Eat in L.A. for ideas and they both seemed pretty smitten with Herbivore, so that’s exactly where Neal and I went after a wonderful morning at MoMA.

My fellow bloggers raved about the grilled seitan shwarma wrap, so it didn’t take me long to order. Soon out came my wrap packed with grilled onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, hummus, tahini, pickles, and the awesome seitan. Would I like to add eggplant and potatoes to that? That would be a yes–I’m on vacation after all! I could easily eat this wrap every day for the rest of my life–it was that good. Neal ordered the falafal wrap which was also delicious. I was also very pleased that the wrap was totally easy to eat–it wasn’t constantly in danger of exploding and dripping like wraps are wont to do. (These pictures are much better than mine)

The desserts sounded uber delish, so we couldn’t resist ordering a slice of german chocolate cake. The server brought out this huge slab of heaven, which we devoured even though we were already so full we wanted to die. The fudgey icing was the best I’ve had–vegan or otherwise.

The added bonus of eating at Herbivore, was that while we chowed down in the sunshine, we spotted a very cute looking Indian restaurant. When we were craving Indian later on, we knew right where to go. It was back to the Mission for us!

Dosa serves South Indian cuisine which is different than the stuff one sees on a usual Indian menu. I was pleased to see a note at the top of the menu pointing to the vegan options. I ordered the Tamil Vegetable Curry which was made up of cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, plantains & cherry tomatoes in a “Chettinad-style” curry. Spooning the curry over coconut basmati rice made for one of the best meals I’ve had, period. The menu described the curry as mild which makes me fear what they find spicy because it was actually quite hot. Neal ordered a dosa which was unfortunately not vegan, because it looked amazing.

Neal and I had an amazing time in SF and I cannot wait to go back–especially because I found it to be even more vegan friendly than L.A. which is very impressive! Thanks to Foodeater and Quarrygirl for the great advice! Also, after eating at Dosa I really want to start cooking obscure Indian dishes more often. Anyone have a good suggestion for a vegan (or easily veganizable) Indian cook book?

EDIT:  An employee at Dosa came across my last post about their lovely South Indian restaurant and sent me a very nice e-mail. They wrote:

“I did want to mention that we can make our dosas vegan by holding back on the “ghee”, which as you might know is an integral part of vegetarian food. Next time just ask your server and we’ll be glad to serve you a delicious vegan dosa.”

And I thought that place couldn’t get any better!!! It almost makes me want to shoot up to SF sometime next week just go get some more scrumptious curry.

George and I Take a Walk-Away at Akasha

Production gigs are not like normal jobs where you might get an hour or so for a lunch break where you can have a Sex in the City style gabfest with your closest friends and then stop by the bank or maybe do a little shopping before heading back to the office. In the production world, lunch is either catered or ordered in and on set you get a 30 minute break and in the office you get no break at all–most people work straight through lunch, taking bites at their desks between sending e-mails. Although our little art department tries to be a little more civilized–we always gather around our ping pong table for a short, communal meal.

Some shows employ a different kind of system: the walk-away lunch. The walk-away lunch is a cruel and inhumane system and is usually seen on shows that shoot on big studio lots. A walk-away means that instead of a 30 minute break for a catered meal, you are given an hour break to go feed yourself. Here is why the practice is so repulsive:

1. A longer break may sound better than half an hour, but when your days are 12-18 hours long, you’d rather have that extra 30 minutes of sleep at the end of the day.

2. An hour is usually not long enough to go anywhere off the lot because it can take 20 minutes just to get to your car which is probably parked at the deck that’s on the complete opposite end of the lot from your show’s stage. This means you are stuck eating at the commissary (which vary in quality from studio to studio) or the other lame restaurants found on the lot.

3. You have to pay for it yourself!!! The horror, the horror!

Now you may be saying–but Liz, surely you could just pack your own delicious lunch. But no, that’s not really an option, because after you’ve worked 18 hours it’s hard enough to force yourself to take a shower, let alone create a satisfying meal for the next day.

Like I said, my show doesn’t use the dreaded walk-away, so I don’t have to fret. But on Friday, when almost everyone in the art department had to attend a production meeting at location, George and I were left to our own devices for lunch and we decided we’d go out!

Not only were we treating ourselves to a trip away from the office but we decided to go all out and splurge with lunch at Culver City’s newest fine dining place: Akasha.

Akasha’s shtick is serving all organic, upscale California cuisine with a lot of vegan/vegetarian options. The restaurant is truly green from the biodegradable dishwashing soap to the organic hemp uniforms on the wait staff. I ordered the Punjabi Mung Beans and Rice (hold the raita) and was glad I did as it was the best lunch I’ve had all season.

The dish came with a bean and rice mixture in a korma-like curry, tomato chutney (which tasted like Indian-style ketchup), local greens, and a crunchy tandoori flatbread topped with caramelized onions. I had never had mung beans before–they never sounded too appetizing–but they were great and I plan on cooking with them sometime in the near future. George also really enjoyed his meal. That is the beauty of this place–usually at fine dining restaurants, vegans are forced to create some bland salad while their friends order feasts. But at Akasha, vegans and omnivores alike can share an outstanding meal.

So today I learned that walk-aways aren’t always so bad. I have a feeling George and I will be trying to take one again at least once before our season wraps.

Akasha
9543 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
310.845.1700