Ayurvedic, Healthy Feast
Curry Hill’s new eatery is such a guilt-free space it doesn’t even have a deep fryer! ”Even our papads are roasted,” says Mamta Mulloi, who owns this brand new little restaurant in Manhattan with her husband Dinu. Indeed, ancient Ayurvedic seers would have given their stamp of approval to the pristine menu at Yogi’s Kitchen and so will modern day vegetarians, healthy eaters, and those watching their wallets. For starters, the food is wholesome, based on India’s 5000 year old Ayurveda, the science of life-balance.
Then there’s the visual pleasure of eating from steel thalis, with little katoris encircling the thali with a touch of all the ingredients necessary for a nutritious meal. Says Mamta, “We don’t do a la carte because people will order one dish – and that will not have all the elements to make it a balanced meal.”
“We wanted to give a complete meal with the five vital elements in it – if people keep eating this food, their life will be longer.” Mamta, who is from Madurai in Tamil Nadu, got the inspiration from the many visits to her husband Dinu’s hometown, Calicud in Kerala, where their families visit a holistic resort to get the best of Ayurvedic treatments. “The food they serve you there is very important,” she says, “The whole concept is vegetarian, with very little oil and no deep fried items. They create different diets according to each individual’s needs, and these are perfectly balanced diets.”
And so at Yogi’s Kitchen, you have the same food experience – on a budget. Enter the $7.99 lunch specials: Spiritual Awakening South Thali gives you a complete gastronomical experience of a balanced, lightweight and yet savory meal consisting of rice, roti, sambar, rasam, pulikulambli, poriyal, avial, and kootu, while the Spiritual Awakening North Thali substitutes the main dishes with dal, kadhi and two vegetables. Both thalis include yogurt and sprout salad as the protein source, and also include papads and dessert.
On weekends you can splurge on the three course all-you-can eat dinner which is priced at $ 16 and includes a tasting dish of starters with aloo tiki, khaman dhokla, masala dosa and idli served with sprouts salad and chutney. It is interesting that the appetizers represent different regions in India. You can call for as many repeats as you desire – but have to leave place for the actual main course dinner which is the North or South Thali , followed by dessert and herbal tea. Once again, servers bring repeats to the table of all the various dishes – very like they do in some popular vegetarian establishments in India.
The Mullois hope to educate their consumers and plans are on to have a small library of Ayurvedic books on hand, as well as Ayurvedic information. According to Mamta, the wheat rotis they serve are rich in proteins and B vitamins while the spices in the food strengthen digestion and the immune system. They point out that the black pepper in the rasam is great for preventing colds and throat infections and the garlic in the food lowers cholesterol, inhibits rheumatism besides having anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties. Many of the dishes have turmeric, that wonder spice which is reputed to be a natural blood-purifier and improves liver function, skin tone and is an antiseptic.
Other spices in the food include coriander and cumin, and both are aids to digestion while ginger improves digestion, lowers cholesterol, controls blood pressure, inhibits cancer, and has anti-nausea & anti-clotting properties. Cloves are said to control gum and tooth infections while cinnamon helps fight diabetes and food poisoning and nutmeg helps relieve stress. Soon the Ayurvedic literature will be placed at the tables and last we heard a 5 foot tall Buddha was being brought in from India to add serenity to this little vegetarian space.
Finally, I had to ask, is it the right time to open yet another Indian restaurant? Says Mamta Mulloi: “Even if the economy goes down, people still have to eat food. If it’s the right food and at the right price, people are going to come.”
(The restaurant is at 182 Lexington Avenue – 212-779-2207)