Amazon SearchBox

Monday, March 22, 2010

Indian Restaurant in Dallas

In India, food is considered as divine and is represented by Goddess Annapoorani. And any offering given at a temple is considered to have the blessing of the presiding deity. There are even some temples whose food is said to cure some eye diseases and problems of the stomach. I never thought I would find a place in Texas(!!) that still follows this tradition of simple home cooking, that comes with the blessings of a deity. When I was in Dallas last week, I was looking for a Indian place to try and I found Kalachandjis, a vegetarian restaurant.

Kalachandji's Palace, Restaurant and Temple is a place where you can get food for the mind and for the stomach. Kalachandji's is Dallas's longest serving Vegetarian Restaurant, often voted as the # 1 choice for Vegetarians by Magazines. Started in the year 1982, for nearly 27 years Kalachandijis has been serving vegetarian, home made food, cooked according to ayurvedic traditions.

The name itself is quite unique for a Indian restaurant as most Indian restaurants have a similar name wherever you go,like a dosa corner or Dakshin. The name Kalachandiji is the name of the presiding deity of the Palace. Kala means black and Chand means moon, hence the name translates to that of the beautiful moon face of Lord Krishna. How the 500 year old deity came to Texas is another interesting fact. It is believed that during the foreign invasion of India, the statute of Lord Krishna was hidden to avoid stealing and after many years , Swami Prabhupada found the statue as a door stopper in a shop in Jaipur. Once obtaining the statue of Kalachandji, efforts were taken to construct a temple in Dallas and the Palace was created for his residence.

The restaurant is divided into the Palace-Temple, a magnificent Garden with fountains, Tulsivanam, the Restaurant and a shop for Indian goods. Once entering into the Palace, automatically one can sense the peace, the cool wind due to the garden and the sizzling sound of running waters. Ofcourse, there is the aroma of food that invites you into the restaurant.

We had a chance to meet the Chef and Palace Coordinator Manjulai Devi and she showed us around the palace and gave us a brief history of the place. The food for nearly 400 people a day is cooked by Chef Manjulai Devi and Chef Sweta and it is made according to ayurvedic traditions. It is believed that food can absorb the emotions of the person who cooks a meal and so every meal made at this restaurant is called as a Food Served with Love as the Chef's cook it with positive thoughts. Another interesting fact is that none of the dishes offered here has any Garlic, Onions, Canned or Frozen food.



The range of food offered here is Indian-Fusion with less spicy Indian food and either a Pasta, Bread or BBQ Tofu for the International food lovers.



And the menu is changed everyday, you can check the menu here. You wont find a Steaming pot of Biryani but the mouthwatering array of dishes for the day we visited were Dal Soup, Vadas, Pooris, Home made cinnamon bread and raisin bread,Poppadams, Brown rice, Spanish Tomato Rice(with olives), Enchiladas, Curry with Paneer, Steamed spinach and steamed vegetables with Tahini Sauce along with a salad bar.



The dal soup is so flavorful that you won't notice that it is missing onions and garlic. Once the tongue is all fiery from the soup, soothing effect of salad teases the palates.



The salad bar has mixed greens, steamed vegetables, cucumbers, olives, carrots and beets along with peppers. The best part is their home made salad dressing. The almond blend dressing is chunky- crowd favorite dressing and most of the guests were gulping it by the bowls instead of using it as a dressing. Other dressings like Green Goddess, Italian Basil or Lemon Tahini are also home made and as flavorful as the names suggest.



The best drink that goes with such a meal is- Tamarind Tea! I was surprised to hear the name at first and took a little sip just so, but the cold tea sure packs a punch. Made with turbinado sugar and tamarind, the tea is a real refresher. The taste is so addictive that for every plate refilled, you would want to refill the tea also. And even finishing off a couple of plates, there is no heavy feeling as there is no masala to make the tummy feel uncomfortable.

But we were not done yet, once we cleaned off our plates, we were served a classic pineapple coconut halvah(Farina with coconut,pineapples and nuts)and a sweet rice pudding.

Once the tummy was full, we decided to walk around the garden along with Chef Manjuali Devi. The garden-patio has a couple of seats near the fountains and were spread out through the garden. The chef shared that during the summer most people would come to the Palace with a nice book, have a filling meal and enjoy the rest of the evening reading the book in the Garden! Why not, with a couple of glasses of the tea to drink it sure would be a relaxing evening.




The last stop of our tour is the beginning of this post- Kalachandiji's temple. Surrounded by Tulsi plants, with Radha on his side, Kalachandji was actually celebrating Valantine's Day with his dear devotees. Heart shaped balloons and garlands decorated the place of worship.



Surrounding Kalachandiji were paintings that describe the life of krishna, starting from his birth to butter stealing days to rasa-leela. Each painting is supported by a beautifully hand crafted pillars made from India.



If you are interested in learning Indian cooking, what could be better than starting it at a Palace? The Palace Chef's offer cooking classes for beginners every Thursday for two hours and more information on the cooking classes, you can click here. The class is not just a demonstration class but the entire set of students is fed a full course meal that is cooked by the Chef for the class.

And the cost of Dinner Buffet? It is just around $10 per person. Want a relaxing meal on a tiring weekend? Checkout Kalachanjis for a unique dining experience.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gandhi in Las Vegas

Gandhi- Vegas
It was a sunny saturday in vegas when we decided to pack out bags, leave the casinos and hit the road to Grand Canyon. Sure enough, we wanted to have some fulfilling Indian food. We made the decision to eat in Gandhi Indian Cuisine and head out.

Name: Gandhi Indian Restaurant
Style of Cuisine: Indian
Time of Visit: September 2008
Location: Near Flamingo Casino, Vegas
Cost of Lunch/Couple: Under $50

I have been to Gandhi before with my friends when I was a Grad Student visiting Vegas. But it was a huge difference in taste and presentation. I didnt see any crowd except for a family of four, a family of three and me and my wife. We could see that Buffet was being advertised so we went straight to grab a plate.

One look at the table and I felt that the food didnt look appetizing. I decided to try roti, aloo gobi, iddli and sambar.
One bite into the idli and it felt cold, dry around the edges and slightly bitter. Coconut Chutney was also cold and slightly tasting like tamarind. Aloo gobi didnt have the flavor combinations working well. I ditched both dishes and grabbed another plate and dived into rice with channa masala and dhal. Still not upto the standard of a restaurant in a place like vegas. Within 10 minutes we were out of the place. The last time I checked it out was in 2002, so I can imagine the change in taste and serving. I dont know if the taste has improved so check again before visiting. If your visit had some good dishes served during lunch/dinner, let me know and I will add your review also.