Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Udupi Bhavan

If you're as much of a fan of dosas as I am, you will know how excited I was to discover Udupi Bhavan, a casual little vegetarian Indian restaurant tucked away in a shopping plaza off the main drag in Middletown, CT.  It's 100% vegetarian, and most items on the menu are vegan.  Word of caution, however: though dosas are traditionally made with a batter of rice and lentil flour, they also use wheat flour here, so they're not gluten-free.  (Nonetheless, I took one for the team.)

We shared a few appetizers, including a monstrous platter of Vegetable Pakoras.  These were nothing like the little greasey, sometimes gloppy, golfball-sized fried dough balls typical of Indian restaurants.  Instead, these were somewhat like heavy-battered tempura using whole florets of cauliflower, slices of onion rings, wedges of potatoes, and even an entire green chili pepper (which fortunately wasn't too hot).

We also had the Potato Bonda, which had a filling similar to a samosa, though this was battered in a lentil flour then fried.  The outside was crisp perfection while the inside stayed moist and fluffy.  The tamarind sauce and mint-cilantro chutney complimented the mild flavors nicely.

Typically when dosas are on the menu, I sample the Masala Dosa, a large crepe filled with spiced potatoes and onions.  But since I spied Palak Masala Dosa, a crepe made with rice and spinach and filled with the same mixture, I decided this would be the one to try.  Now, dosas are usually quite large, but I think I could've wrapped myself in this one and worn it like a Snuggie.  And it would've been as delicious as it was comfy.

The other item we sampled was the Aloo Palak, a spinach and potato curry.  This was made with fresh tomatoes cut into large chunks, and had different flavors from what is typically found in most Indian restaurants.  Maybe a little allspice?  Maybe even some fennel seed?  It reminded me of Vadouvan, which was savory and delicious.

This is a destination restaurant, and worth the trip from anywhere if you're in the mood for some homey southern Indian food.  Or, if you are unfamiliar with these regional treats, this is definitely a place you want to make your first time experience.  A friendly, informative staff will help guide you in making the best selections.

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