Tiffin Wallah

Kick starting my list is a place called ‘Tiffin Wallah’ located at 128 E 28th Street, NYC. The place is a delight for vegetarians and vegans. The palette is a combination of South Indian delights with a medley of Chaats, Gujrathi and Punjabi curries that have probably been thrown in to appeal to a larger ‘desi’ crowd. Three of us walked in on a chilly October afternoon starving for some good food and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed. Between the three of us we ordered a ‘Thaali Saapadu’ an exclusive South Indian thaali, and two South Indian thaali dinners.

The South Indian thaali dinner was a composition of a medium sized masala dosa, an idli, medu vada, an uttapam served with coconut chutney and sambhar and badam halwa for dessert. Being a South Indian myself, I have always believed that the best south Indian delicacies are always the ones conjured up at home and no restaurant can measure up to the same. For the first time ever, I agreed that the food that we had that afternoon was actually the best that I have had outside of home. The idli was steamed to perfection and was complemented by the coconut chutney and the sambhar which I have to say tasted even better than the ones available at Saravana Bhavan. The masala dosa was crispy and the mashed potato filling with peas was equally tasty. The quantity of the filling was just right and the consistency was not moist or runny unlike most restaurants. The uttapam with onions, carrots and peas was cooked well, a sharp contrast to many places where the raw batter would rear its ugly head. It was well cooked to the extent that one could eat it with a knife and fork! Both these preparations reminded me of my dad’s dosa and uttapam preparations which means ‘Tiffin Wallah’ has definitely passed the test. The medu vada was disappointing; it was tough, and tasted like it had been fried in stale oil forcing us to ignore it. Our dessert, the badam halwa made up for the bad vada. It was neither too sweet nor coated with ghee making it the perfect occasional indulgence for health conscious buffs.

With regards to the ‘Thaali Saapadu’, my friend definitely enjoyed it with the exception of the fried rice that seemed like it should be fed to vultures. The poori on the plate was sans oil (a sharp contrast to most restaurants where this preparation drips oil) and my friend loved most of the items (rasam, aviyal, sambhar being some of them) and had good words for the ‘semiya payasam’ aka ‘Semolina Kheer’ that rounded off her lunch!

The décor was no nonsense and simple and the service was commendable. The cost of all 3 meals including a coffee, beer and taxes was about $66, a wee bit on the higher end but we did walk out happy and full.

Location: 128 E 28th Street, New York, NY 10016
Category: South Indian Vegetarian
Recommend: Yes. The food is not too Americanized which definitely in TW’s favor.
Cost: Appx $30 for 2 people
Website: www.tiffinwallah.us


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