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Amma's Kitchen (Review)

Udipi re-emerges with the same divine vegetarian Indian cuisine

By Heather Smith · April 30th, 2008 · Diner
8 Comments
     
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  Udipi
Emily Maxwell

Udipi



Amma's Kitchen in Roselawn might be a heaven of sorts, but this isn't immediately obvious from its decor. Instead, the ambience says purgatory, with stiff maroon booths, beige walls, industrial carpeting and the plain, reception-hall formality typical of Indian restaurants.

Amma's Kitchen, which means "Mother's Kitchen" in Hindi, seems in need of a woman's touch. (There are only men in both the front and back of the house.)

The divine food, however, makes up for any lack of flair. I have a friend who often describes great food like this: "When I ate that lavender-infused muffin from The Greenup Café, a beam of light came down from heaven and shone on me, as well as the muffin."

If you really love Indian food, particularly vegetarian/vegan Indian food, don't be surprised if you go to lunch or dinner at Amma's Kitchen and have a similar religious-conversion experience.

While you might not see Christ or Parvati, you'll at least really enjoy the authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine with an emphasis on southern snacks such as Dosa (rice crepes), Vada (fried lentil donuts) and Idli (steamed rice cakes). Dishes rely heavily on lentils, rice and coconut milk, are often hot and spicy and are full of surprises such as cream of wheat, coconut chutney and roasted green plantains.

Visiting Amma's for both lunch and dinner, we tried almost everything. Both times we left feeling as if we'd been plunged into a sensory feast.

Amma's is a good place to experience all of the six Ayurvedic tastes -- sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent -- in one meal. We began with the sweet: cooling drinks. The Badam Kheer ($3.49) -- which features ground almonds, milk and sugar -- was an antioxidant delight rich in dark, spicy cardamom and the Mango Lassi ($2.49), a frothy milkshake, conjured tropical vacations and mindless frolicking.

The Lunch Buffet ($7.99) that followed was nothing short of exciting. My friend -- the one who describes great food as "light coming from the heavens"-- joined me, and we tasted many earthly delights, starting with Dosas ($5.99). You can get these thin rice crepes filled with almost anything, from vegetables and noodles to marinara sauce and pasta.

We started with the Masala Dosa ($6.99), which was recommended by the owner: a giant crepe filled with a dab of potatoes and peas, seasoned with mustard seed and turmeric. (Think fried Vegetable Samosa filling but without the grease.)

Next we tried a variety of chutneys. Some of these dipping sauces for Indian treats -- Vada, Idli and Dosas -- were standard, but others were surprising. The cool mint, sweet tamarind and pungent onion were typical, but the coconut chutney was a slightly sweet revelation. The Raitha -- whipped yogurt with tomato, cucumber, carrot and coriander -- tamed the flames of some of the spicier dishes peppered with red and green chilies that can go to the head.

Unique buffet dishes that weren't on the menu included Vegetable Uppuma (vegetables and nuts in cream of wheat) and Vegetable Mughlai, which the owner proudly introduced as "the royal dish," eaten by kings and queens, when he gave us a tour of the buffet. (We asked for it.) It was easy to see why -- the deep and savory cream-based sauce carried cumin, and coriander flavors went straight to the heart.

Dinner at Amma's Kitchen was just as satisfying, leading to finds like Vegetable Korma ($7.99), rich in coconut with strong hints of coriander, cinnamon and cardamom. (The heat was successfully cut with Raitha.) Of the rice dishes, only the Tamarind Rice ($6.99) was a disappointment. Described as hot and tangy with peanuts, the flavor was dull with a sour aftertaste.

We finished the night off with Kulfi Falooda ($3.99), a homemade Indian ice cream with rose milk that offered a floral bouquet with a hint of syrup and vermicelli noodles for texture. The Masala Tea ($1.99), reminiscent of Chai, was warm and alive with ginger, spices and rich cream.

At the end of the night, I felt as if I'd traveled to the region and back again, the mark of a great ethnic restaurant.


AMMA'S KITCHEN Critics Pick

Go: 7633 Reading Road, Roselawn

Call: 513-821-2021

Hours: Lunch buffet: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Dinner a la carte: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday

Buffet/Entree Prices: $5.99-$7.99

Payment: All major credit cards

Red Meat Alternatives: Purely vegetarian cuisine

Accessibility: Yes

 
 
 
 

 

 
07.12.2009 at 10:40 Reply
To whoever wrote this article- do your research before you write such an ignorant phrase such as "Amma's Kitchen, which means "Mother's Kitchen" in Hindi". Amma is not a Hindi word- it is a Tamil word. Do you not know that India has 25 different languages and thousands of different dialects? Why do you write an article persisting more American ignorance and arrogance as the truth, instead of trying to understand the culture about which you're writing? Your article also reeks of ethnocentrism, and instead of spewing these views on a public sphere where other rednecks can clutch onto such views of ignorance, I would suggest expressing these views in private among your own kind.

 

07.12.2009 at 10:47
Most of the staff in Amma's kitchen- including the head cook are Tamil or Tamil speaking. That would be SOUTH INDIAN- Hindi speakers are from North of Tamil Nadu. You probably don't even know the difference between Amma's Kitchen/Udipi and other Indian restaurants (predominantly North Indian) because you are a fool.

 

11.02.2009 at 05:28
You seem to be a very knowledgeable source of Southern and Northern Indian culture, ambalab. Thank you for sharing your insight. With that in mind, I must respectfully point out that your grasp of American culture is quite feeble indeed, because there ain't no rednecks reading a review of Amma's Kitchen in Citybeat, douche bag!

 

02.26.2011 at 12:52
ambalab, please try to be a little less condescending and arrogant in your feedback and you will make this a more useful site for everyone. Try to understand that not everyone knows as much about this culture as you seem to and that people can make genuine mistakes without meaning to offend. The original reviewer did not deserve the venom of your response.

 

07.06.2011 at 09:24
I'm not a vegatarian, but this is good food. @Ambalab, why would you throw such hatred toward a person that obviously enjoys the Indian food for which you are so proud. Since you have everything there is to know, one would think that you would also know that North of Tamil Nadu is Andrah Pradesh where most speak Telegu and not Hindi as you so eloquently and incorrectly stated. Perhaps you hate North Indians and don't want to be associated with them. If that is the case, then you should recognize your own faults and not feel the need to lash out at an innocent person just writing an article. Shame on you Ambalab.

 

07.27.2010 at 11:38 Reply
Wow, why not enjoy the good review and politely correct the writers mistake, otherwise you seem to be hypersensitive and racist (it cuts in all directions). I personally love the incredible food at Amma's Kitchen, more power to them!

 

10.15.2010 at 12:45 Reply
illegal business fraud kitchen

 

11.25.2010 at 04:19 Reply
I am on the phone with my niece right now. She is raving about the food at amma's kitchen. Indian food rocks!!! She cant wait to go back for her second meal. Go Amma!!

 

 
 
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