Madras Pavilion

Madras Pavilion serves the spicy vegetarian fare of southern India. This is different than the food that is typically available at most Indian restaurants in this country, and also locally, that primarily serve the tandoori cooking of northern India, the popular grilled meats and curries.

Though the food is entirely vegetarian, it’s hearty, filling and can be very flavorful. Many of the dishes are cooked with ghee (clarified butter) and contain cheese. It’s vegetarian, but not vegan.

The easiest introduction for many will probably be the popular lunch buffet. But, the best way to enjoy the interesting flavors at Madras Pavilion is to come with a group and order several dishes from the full dinner menu. It’s well laid-out, and most items are coupled with an explanatory description. If you are not familiar with southern Indian cooking, for two people, you might want to try a crispy samosa (a turnover filled with potato, onions and peas), a dose (a large thinly sheathed crepe) an order of rice, a bread, and a couple curry dishes. Pieces of the dosa are to be broken off and used to scoop up the curry sauce or dipped in a chutney. The dosas taste great alone, too.

The menu is filled with explanatory descriptions and is divided among a dozen appetizers, a handful of soups, a dozen types of those doses, several uthappams (described as an Indian pizza), a number of curries, several rice dishes, a half-dozen freshly baked breads, plus sides, fruit juices, beverages, and desserts. The term “curry” in this sense refers to the style of cooking.

For appetizers, in addition to the samosa, there are several vat (lentil doughnuts) and a few deep-fried items. Most of the dosas are made with rice and lentils. These come plain or filled with a variety of items such as the Butter Masala Dosa that is filled with potatoes and onions and cooked in butter. The uthappam is made with the same dough as used for the dosas and topped with various combinations of onions, chiles, tomatoes and peas. The curries can be excellent, especially with bread like the batura (large and puffy), to scoop up the sauce. Several are fairly creamy. The tasty Channa Masala Curry features chickpeas. The Paneer Butter Masala is cheese in a creamy, flavorful sauce. There are other curries with lentils, okra, bell peppers and other vegetables.

Of the nearly ten rice dishes, there are no biriyanis, but there are ones like the descriptively named Coconut Rice and Tamarind Rice. Naan, requisite in most local Indian restaurants, is not one of the breads on the menu, but there are several parathas, a thick multi-layered wheat bread. The desserts include the familiar gulab jaman (very sweet deep-fried balls of cheese) and pistachio ice cream, and also a scrumptious Carrot Halwa and Badam Halwa (shredded carrots and ground almonds, respectively, that are cooked in honey and butter). For a fitting complement, there are a number squeezed fresh fruit juices and excellent mango drinks.

Madras Pavilion

3910 Kirby (between Richmond and Southwest Freeway)
Houston, Texas 77098
(713) 521-2617

16260 Kensington (west of 6, north of Southwest Freeway)
Sugar Land, Texas 77479
(281) 491-3672

Photo Credit: / CC BY 2.0

Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.

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