For a few weeks now, I’ve been craving a “dosa.” If you’re not familiar with what this is, it’s a behemoth-sized rice flour crepe stuffed with spicy, seasoned potatoes and then served with a vegetable sambar – or lentil soup, some coconut chutney and seasoned yogurt. It’s actually a South Indian breakfast dish, but a lot of people here in the US (myself included) have it for lunch or dinner because it’s really a heavy dish.
I recently went to this South Indian restaurant that specializes in dosa’s. Amma’s Indian Kitchen is in the Marlton, NJ area and has an impressive selection of traditional South Indian foods and dosa’s. It’s hidden in the Eagle Plaza shopping center, but there were a lot of people in this place. It definitely seemed like this was the “go to” for dosa’s in the area with many locals dining in.
I started off my dosa night with my all-time favorite…the Mango Lassi. And guess what? It was just okay. (Boo!) It seemed a bit tart to me and overly thick. Usually Mango Lassi is a sweet drink, but the one I had here just didn’t do anything for me. I think they needed to dilute it a bit and also add more mango flavor to this drink – it was definitely on the bland side.
For appetizers – I had the Chicken 65 and Cauliflower Manchurian. If you’ve ever heard of either of these dishes, then you know they are extremely flavorful and packed with a serious punch of spices and seasonings. Chicken 65 is deep-fried chunks of chicken in different chilis, seasonings and spices. It is a South Indian type of street food – fried, salty, crunchy, spicy, portable. No one really knows the reason why its called “Chicken 65” but people speculate that there could be 65 different ingredients in it, or it was created in 1965, or the best one was that it only had 65 calories! Oh I wish this was really true! LOL
One thing was definite though- the Chicken 65 at Amma’s was really delicious. It was exactly how it should be – perfect saltiness, very crunchy but the meat was tender inside. I was very impressed with the way it was made! It’s like an Indian version of “popcorn chicken” but much better!!
The Cauliflower Manchurian was good, not great in my book. The cauliflower was fried in what looked like a tempura-style batter and then tossed in a “sweet and sour” type of sauce. It reminded me of the Chinese sweet and sour chicken but just with cauliflower. I’ve had Indian Manchurian dishes before and usually what they do is make a meatball-sized dumpling out of mixed veggies, or in this case cauliflower, and then saute it in this indo-Chinese style sauce. It has the heat and spices from our Indian side, but the soy sauce and Asian flavors common in a Szechuan style dish. If made right – it’s an absolutely delicious dish. Amma’s Manchurian was a bit different than what I’ve had in the past, and left me wishing I had ordered a different appetizer from the menu. But hey – that’s why we go to restaurants in the first place right? Try different things!
For dinner, we tried a few different dishes. We had the Mysore Masala Dosa, which is a dosa smothered in spicy garlic chutney and then stuffed with the potato mixture. We also had the Spinach Dosa, which is similar to the Mysore dosa, except it is smothered in spicy spinach on the inside and again, stuffed with the same potato mixture. Both were actually very good, except it was extremely spicy despite requesting it as “medium-spiced.” My husband and I were downing glasses of water non-stop while eating the dosa. I have to admit though – despite the crazy heat, the seasonings were completely on point. The dosa was light, airy, crispy and really delicious. The potato mixture in both dosa’s were really great and a decent amount considering the size of the dosa plates! The sambar – spicy lentil soup that accompanies the dosa was spicy, tart and sweet just like a traditional dosa sambar should be. It was really a good dosa and very fresh.
My only complaint was the intense heat of the dish. Being an Indian girl, I’m used to spicy foods and usually enjoy them but these dosa’s were like a fire in my belly! Literally.
The last dish we had was Butter Chicken. I will continue to be honest and say I was not impressed with this dish at all. It was lacking in flavor, that typical “butter chicken” sweetness was not there either. The pieces of chicken were tough and rubbery. It was definitely creamy but just was not even close to the look or taste of butter chicken. Actually, it had this odd “ghee-like” taste and just left this greasy after-taste in my mouth. I will have to pass on ordering this dish again. (And I’m sorry – I just didn’t take a pic of this dish cause I was so caught up in my disappointment that I forgot!) Oops!
So here are my thoughts…If you go to Amma’s South Indian Kitchen, just order the South Indian dishes only. The Chicken 65 and their dosa’s and South Indian curries are the way to go. In my opinion, they did the South Indian dishes really well because that is where they are from and know how to make that regions food. I would pass on the creamy, fusion dishes (Manchurian, butter chicken, chicken tikka, etc.) typical of North Indian menu’s at this place, because it’s just not their specialty.
And lastly – just order your dosa’s MILD. Trust me – you and your tummy will be happier! :O)
For more information on the location and menu check out their website at www.http://ammaskitchenmarlton.com/