Madras Mahal Vegetarian Indian Restaurant, 104 Lexington Ave. (between 27th & 28th St.) New York, NY. (212) 684-4010

Having just returned from a delightful couple of days in New York City, I thought I’d share some great vegetarian restaurants we tried while there.  I know it’s always a challenge to eat healthy when traveling, so I appreciate it when someone can point me in the direction of a good vegetarian restaurant when I’m away from home.  Madras Mahal in Midtown Manhattan is one I can highly recommend.  The restaurant specializes several diverse Indian cuisines with options we don’t often have the opportunity to try in traditional Indian restaurants. They offer dishes from both southern and northern India (yes, there is a difference), and the restaurant is strictly kosher.  Actually, if you love Indian food this block of Lexington Ave has many establishments from which to choose if you’re feeling adventurous.  We found the food to be delicious, prices moderate for the city, staff attentive and courteous — everything clean and efficient.  Judging by the number of happy patrons at Madras Mahal we weren’t the only ones who felt this way. To learn more you can visit their website: http://www.madrasmahal.com.

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Tulsi, Fine Indian Cuisine Restaurant and Lounge, 2101 Columbia Ave. Lancaster, PA 17603, phone: 717-509-7771, www.tulsicuisine.com

Tulsi Indian Restaurant, under new management within the last 6 weeks, is well worth the 35 – 40 minute drive from Reading.  It is located in the Travel Lodge Motel, but don’t be deceived by the outward appearance.  Inside you will find a lovely candlelit diningroom with cloth tablecloths and napkins and uniformed waiters who could not be more attentive without being intrusive — very friendly and accommodating.

We were happy to find many vegetarian options on the menu at Tulsi.  On a Wednesday evening we ordered from the “specials,”  and for only $11.95 per person we each got one appetizer, one entree, rice, and naan (Indian bread).  Beverage was extra, but free refills on the tea.  For appetizers I ordered the Vegetable Samosas (crisp pastries stuffed with potatoes and spices) and my husband had the Vegetable Pakoras (assorted vegetable fritters). These appetizers were served with a crisp unleavened bread (I think the waiter called it “Roti”) and an assortment of three sauces (sweet, tangy, and hot).

For entrees I chose the Malai Kofta (vegetarian alternative to meatballs in a rich tomato/onion gravy with light raisins).  I asked for “not spicy,” and it wasn’t —  at first.  It wasn’t until the third bite that I noticed the slow burn — not too hot, but I did have to rely on frequent bites of warm naan to cool off. The occasional raisin was a wonderful accompaniment to the heat and flavors of this dish, which I thought was delicious.  The chef made Aloo Mutter for my husband’s special request at a 6 out of 10 on the hotness scale.  He was smokin’, but he likes it that hot so he was very happy.

I would highly recommend Tulsi;  for the flavor, price, and atmosphere I don’t think you can beat this restaurant.  The portions are very generous.  I wish we had left room to try one of their desserts, but the entrees were so tasty that we just couldn’t stop eating until we had finished them completely.

Tulsi is open everyday for lunch and dinner, and have a daily lunch buffet.  They also offer take-out, delivery, and catering.  My only criticism is that they don’t have a very big parking lot.  That wasn’t a problem on a Wednesday night, but I could see it making parking difficult on weekends. If you like Indian cuisine then try Tulsi — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.