Worlds Collide: Kosher Vegetarian Indian Food at Chennai Garden

Since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve lived a bifurcated life. There’s my downtown NYU life and my “uptown” Chelsea life. My downtown NYU life involves a bevy of new friends, classes, teachers, projects, plays, meals and exotic dancers. My “uptown” Chelsea life involves Lolita (my cat) and my “old school” school friends—namely, Lisa. I’ve been neglecting Lisa lately. Don’t you miss her? I know I do.

So last night, worlds collided. I invited Kirk (my new school friend) to dine with Lisa and myself. Would these two get along? The risk was great. After all, Lisa is peppy and energetic and Kirk wears greens and blues and tends to put his finger on his chin and not smile:

Yet, there was magic in the air. We all clicked terrifically. And what better way to honor such an unexpected union than to eat Kosher Vegetarian Indian food at Chennai Garden?


Seems strange, the fusion of kosher and vegetarian. But Lisa has a theory:

“Honestly,” says Lisa, “it’s not that hard to make vegetarian food kosher. Because you already don’t have to deal with meat.”

She has a point. And with a few small changes (mostly dairy-related, I imagine) vegetarian Indian restaurants can broaden their clientele. Hence the kosher.

So, anyway, why Chennai Garden? Why now?

I read about it in New York Magazine and the Village Voice. Best Indian deal—all you can eat buffet at lunch. But we were going for dinner. Still, it was close to where I live. And that’s why.

What did we eat?

Ha, funny you should ask. To be honest, I didn’t keep my menu. I will now go to to see if I can find it so I can identify our food. (I’m not very good at identifying Indian Food…)

[During this pause, Adam goes to and discovers that Chennai Garden’s menu IS available. He consults it lovingly.]

So what did we eat?

I had Alu Palak: Savory Creamed Spinach with Potatoes.


Lisa had Alu Baingan: Potato & Eggplant with Tomato, Onion & Spices.


Kirk had Paneer Masala: Fresh Homemade Cheese in a Special Cream Sauce.


When I say “I had,” “Lisa had,” “Kirk had,” I don’t mean to imply that we each ate our own things. I mean to imply that we shared but this is what each of us ordered when we ordered. We were also brought rice that had peas in it:


And we shared a bread that wasn’t nan, but may have been either Chappati, Pulka, or Poori. I’m afraid I don’t recall.

Then Kirk made a daring move and ordered a mango Lassi for himself.

“Lassi,” I said, “what’s that?”

“Well,” said Kirk, “It’s a yogurt based drink. It’s sweet.”

“Oooh,” said Lisa, “I’ll have one too.”

Not to be a poor sport I said, “Oooh, me too.”

And soon we were greeted with creamy mangoey goodness:


I enjoyed my lassi, particularly for the undercurrent of coconut I detected.

Soon, the check came. Soon we paid. We were immersed in a conversation about eyeballs and Lasek surgery and near-sightedness vs. far-sightedness when the manager came over and asked us to leave.

“Did we do something wrong?” we pleaded.

“No,” he said kindly, “people are waiting for your table.”

We looked and there was a wait. So we left.

Where the evening went from there, I dare not reveal. I’ll merely suggest you rent a little movie starring Lara Flynn Boyle, Stephen Baldwin and Josh Charles if you catch my drift. You don’t? Ok, so we went to a bar and drank beer and watched the baseball game. (I say “the baseball game” as if that were something I would do normally. I realize most people might do this normally. Especially since it’s the World Series. But when you create my character profile in your brain, I don’t want you to think of me as someone who watches baseball games. I want you to think of me as someone who ends his posts abruptly and poetically.) Worlds collided, my friends. Worlds collided.

2 thoughts on “Worlds Collide: Kosher Vegetarian Indian Food at Chennai Garden”

  1. Adam, I was in NYC last weekend and thought of you everytime I went to a restaurant. In fact, we ate at grey’s papaya (when say “we” I mean “everyone but me”) in your honor.

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