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Madras Mahal NYC

Madras Mahal NYC
104 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016

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madras mahal lexington ave nyc

Madras Mahal NYC Review: Bad Dosa & Idlis; Good Pongal; So So Service

If there was a competition for the Indian restaurant serving the worst Masala Dosa and Idlis in New York,Madras Mahal in Murray Hill would stand a very good chance of winning the First Prize.

Located on Lexington Avenue (between 27th St and 28th St), Madras Mahal makes some of the most horrible tasting Masala Dosa and Idlis we've ever had the misfortune to eat at an Indian restaurant in Manhattan.

No question about it.

We have been eating Idlis and Dosas for more than 40 years and no one can pull the wool over our eyes with these two South Indian dishes. We may not grasp the complexities of e=mc² but we do know our Dosas and Idlis.

What Madras Mahal served us the other day were pathetic caricatures of the real Dosa and Idlis. And they tasted plain awful.

One of the oldest Indian vegetarian eating joints in New York City, this so-called restaurant claims to specialize in South Indian, Gujarati and North Indian cuisine! Wow...is there any other Indian cuisine left to "specialize in?"
Our meal at Madras Mahal was a horrid nightmare that we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy.

Bad Idlis

Idlis (you get two for $4.95) were disgustingly bad.

What landed on our table was an incompletely cooked round white mass. The Idlis appeared soft on the outside and for a moment we were deceived. That is, until we took our first bite and felt the horrid taste of partially cooked flour inside.

The accompanying Coconut Chutney was hopelessly bland and had not even a hint of any taste.

Sambar was far too thick and utterly flavorless. We wondered whether it was prepared by an Eskimo or Ethiopian, definitely someone unacquainted with real Sambar. You see, it was that bad and plain inedible.

This "strictly Kosher" restaurant is a master of the Goebbelsian lie - no one else would dare to call this vile-tasting, offensive monstrosity as Sambar. Obviously, the chef of Madras Mahal wouldn't know real Sambar if it hit him on the face.

Tasteless Mysore Masala Dosa

Mysore Masala Dosa ($7.95) was big and a bit crisp. But that's all the positive stuff we can say about it.

Madras Mahal's tasteless Dosa had very little masala paste smeared inside, which is what gives a nice spicy flavor to the Dosa. The onion/potato filling inside the Dosa was mildly spiced but the accompanying Sambar and Coconut Chutney were flavorless and bland.

Madras Mahal's menu describes the Mysore Masala Dosa as a "spiced crepe rolled with lightly spiced onion & potato". Oh, those lying blackguards! If the Mysore Masala Dosa we got was a "spiced crepe", it was only in the chef's imagination.

Dosa and Idli are two staples of South Indian cuisine like Dal Makhani for North Indian cuisine. And the clueless chefs at Madras Mahal couldn't get both right.

If you are looking for fine Dosa and Idli, there are better choices in Manhattan, Queens and Long Island than Madras Mahal. In Manhattan, the Dosa Cart man on Washington Square Park offers fresh Dosas that are a million times better than the impostor served to us in Madras Mahal. The Pongal outpost on 1st Avenue in Manhattan also serves good Masala Dosa.

In Queens, both Sai Bhavan and Ganesh Temple Canteen serve decent Dosas while Dosa Dinerand Vasanta Bhavan offer tasty Dosas in Long Island. But Chutney is a no-no in some of the above restaurants.

Horrid Tamarind Rice

Madras Mahal couldn't get even the Tamarind Rice right.

Of the various dishes we tried at Madras Mahal, our vote for the worst item of the meal goes to Tamarind Rice.

Prepared with Tamarind juice, red chillies, seasame seeds, pepper seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida, Tamarind Rice is popular in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and when cooked right tastes heavenly.

Besides lacking its usual hot and sour taste, Tamarind Rice at Madras Mahal did not have sufficient oil, was a little overcooked, had no peanuts and seemed to have no seasoning.

Tamarind Rice at Madras Mahal came with Rajma or Red Beans and had a garam masala taste rather than the hot and sour taste. If you are hankering for real tasty authentic Tamarind Rice, consider visiting Ganesh Temple Canteen in Flushing.

Vada was crisp but too oily and since it came with the same horrible Chutney and lousy Sambar gave us no pleasure at all.

Awful Madras Coffee

That Madras Mahal is hopeless at South Indian food was completely confirmed to us after the first sip of Madras Coffee ($1.95).

Never has such a vile liquid soiled our lips. The coffee did not have either the flavor or nice aroma of genuine Madras Coffee. For good Madras Coffee in New York City, you might want to visit Madras Cafe on 2nd Avenue (alas now closed) in East Village of Manhattan.

Good Pongal

Pongal ($9.95) was a welcome aberration in our mostly unedifying meal at Madras Mahal although the accompanying Chutney was too finely ground and again tasteless. To charge $9.95 for Pongal and then give us such lousy Chutney is a rip-off. We found the mixed vegetable pickle that came with the Pongal tasty.

The mildly-flavored Tadka Dal was among the better tasting dishes on our table. It went well with both Chapati and plain White Rice

While Undhiyu was tasty, Palak Panner was a little sour.

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun dessert was warm and came in a sugary syrup. But you'll enjoy Madras Mahal's Gulab Jamun only if you are the kind that enjoys chewing on rubber.

So, So Service

Service at Madras Mahal is so-so.

The Lunch Buffet table did not have any names for the various dishes although there was a board outside the restaurant highlighting the various items on the buffet ($7.95).

Our waiter asked us thrice to confirm our Idli and Dosa orders. Also, the waiters seemed in a desperate hurry to get paid, moments after the bill was presented. Oh, there were no napkins in our takeout order.

But the wait staff were prompt in filling water glasses and removing the finished plates.

Madras Mahal NYC Rating

All in all, we were extremely disappointed with our meal at this 22-year-old Indian vegetarian Kosher restaurant in New York.

So the next time we are on Lexington Ave in the Curry Hill area, we might consider presenting the Madras Mahal folks a book on South Indian cooking. - © NYIndia.us

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