One of my absolute favorite cuisines is Indian. I love the heat and sauciness. I love the flavors, aromas and dipping my food and I love the experience.
I was so excited when I heard about Dwaraka Indian Cuisine on Hawthorne and their offerings for those who are gluten free and vegan. So far, I have been there twice and I am already plotting my next visit, complete with a take home menu which I glance over in preparation for my next meal selections! Not only is the food amazing and inexpensive, but the staff is very kind and helpful and they refill your water often (which is very important to Andrew).
When you first arrive they bring you the most delicious papadums, which are like a very thin, crispy, cracker. They are accompanied by three delicious chutneys for dipping [a spicy tomato, coconut-chickpea and cilantro-mint(not vegan)]. The tomato was my favorite and had a bit of spice to it, which I really enjoyed.
On our last visit with my in-laws, we ordered some pakora appetizers. We choose the potato and spinach. Pakoras are vegetables that have been fried in a chickpea and rice flour. They were really delicious, especially with a little bit of the chutney. I especially like the potato, as I found the spinach one to contain more of the coating than the veggie. I have already decided that next time we are trying the eggplant pakoras!
For dinner I ordered the Dwaraka Combo Platter which was not only completely gluten free and vegan, but also enormous and cheap. It came with a masala dosa (a large lentil flour crepe) that was filled with a curried veg filling. The savory filling was definitely my favorite part of the whole platter. It also came with a bowl of sambar (mildly spicy lentil veg soup), an idli (rice dumpling) and a vada (fried lentil doughnut). The idli and vada were best dipped into the sambar soup. I also enjoyed breaking off pieces of the dosa to dip as well. Not only was the meal delicious, but I also had plenty of left overs to take home!
Andrew ordered a vegetarian entree. You can either get them a la carte (the entree with rice) or Thali (the entree, with sides of rice, dhal, sambar, raita, curry of the day, and a dessert of the day). The raita (yogurt, onion, tomato and cucumber) is not vegan, but our waiter was more than happy to substitute a potato dish instead. Since the dessert and curry of the day change daily, you should be sure to ask if they contain dairy and/or gluten. Both a la carte and Thali entrees come with naan bread, but if asked they will bring out additional papadums for the gluten free folk.
Andrew has ordered both the Chana Masala (garbanzo beans cooked with tomato, onion and spices) and Aloo Saag (NOT dairy free, potato cooked in special spinach sauce). He preferred the chana masala and has also had enough for left overs. Also, almost any of their vegetarian dishes are or can be made vegan. I love the Dwaraka combo platter, but I think next time I will be trying an entree to get more flavors and varieties, than fried, dry items.
In the end Dwaraka is amazing and I highly recommend it! Check out their website for menus, hours and their location.
Oh and let me know if you need a date... I don't think I could pass up some quality Indian food from this place!
*Update: Upon a third visit this is what we found out:
The Aloo Gobi, Chana Masala and Aloo Mutter are all vegan and gluten free.
The Aloo Saag contains dairy.
The Vegetable Biriyani contains dairy.
Naan can be substituted with papadums, upon request.
Raita can be substitute in the thali meals, upon request.
Always ask if the dessert and curry of the day is vegan and/or gluten free.
The people at Dwaraka are so generous and wonderful!