Friday, August 6, 2010

Channa Masala


India Sweets and Spices is a local grocery chain with an attached vegetarian deli. They have eight stores in Southern California. The deli serves vegetarian and vegan specialties from both northern and southern India.

You may find more elegant surroundings than the plastic-laminated tables and walls plastered with posters from Bollywood movies, and you can definitely find better Indian food. But for a delicious and filling meal at only $1.99 you can't beat the fiery flavors of the samosa chana.


Most people are familiar with samosas -- deep-fried snacks of dough-wrapped potatoes, and peas dotted with mustard seeds. But at India Sweets and Spices you can go full throttle. Samosa chana is usually served in a large deli cup, but at the Atwater location it is served on a plate.


First they drown the samosa in a huge spoonful of chana masala (chola). Then it is like watching a sundae being made. The toppings can vary from deli to deli, but there are some standards. In Atwater Village's deli they top the samosa with chopped onions, mint sauce, tamarind sauce, and then cover the whole thing in a thick dusting of cumin and chat masala. Finally it is garnished with chopped fresh cilantro.


The fun thing about the samosa chana is that it is insanely hot. It is a challenge, an exercise in endurance, to finish the whole thing. Then you can douse the fire with cooling treats. Most people go for a mango lassi, but I wait for dessert because they have turmeric ice cream!


You can probably afford to sample other dishes, even splurging on $6 combos. Seriously, check out their low, low, prices. But those who have strayed from the samosa chana soon realize their error. There is nothing like it. Afterwards you can load up on Indian and British imports in the grocery. Bollywood music! Incense! Clothes! A world of sweets and spices!  Plus you can watch movies on the big-screen while you enjoy your channa masala.


3126 Los Feliz Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90039

9409 Venice Blvd Culver City, CA 90232

18110 Parthenia Street Northridge, CA 91325-3302

22011 Sherman Way Canoga Park, CA 91303-1852

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