Amma’s Kitchen has received a rabbinical endorsement of sorts, along with an evident Jewish following among its patrons. On a recent visit to Amma’s we encountered Rabbi Moshe Smolkin having lunch with another Jewish gentleman. Graciously he allowed me to interrupt his meal, agreeing that I could relate his comments, so I will.
“I am so grateful for this food – this place,” he said. “The food here is very good and my kids, they like it too. The kids, they love the mean mango shake (a beverage). There is always plenty to choose from on the buffet.”
He went on to say that Amma’s Kitchen is a good place not only because it’s kosher, but because the food is tasty and appealing, and always fresh. He loves the food, the choices, and the fact that it is kosher (certified), is the sense he gave me in speaking about Amma’s Kitchen.
Rabbi Smolkin is not alone among members of the Jewish community in relishing the eatery. While there, I counted six yarmulkes among the 20 or so diners eating lunch. The cuisine at Amma’s is Indian, and exclusively vegetarian. The order of service is buffet at lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and to 3 p.m. on holidays and weekends; and dinner a la carte, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week.
On this visit to Amma’s Kitchen, the staff was buzzing around the eatery filling and refilling water glasses, bussing plates and tables, and helping patrons. The door host took me aside and expressed his gratitude for the many Jewish patrons that frequented the restaurant. He said that he and the staff work hard to please every patron, but especially Jewish customers who come in to eat. In today’s sometimes strident world, that’s nice to hear, and speaks volumes to me.
One might say that what we have in Amma’s Kitchen is an inviting eatery where the food is good, the service is engaging as well as welcoming, and the menu is kosher. That is right in the wheelhouse of most Jewish diners-out, I’m guessing.
We tried the food, and it was all that Rabbi Smolkin had claimed. My spiciness meter has a relatively low threshold, so the soups I tried were very near the alarm setting for me, but not over it, and both soups were tasty-good. One was the tomato soup that features an aromatic tomato broth, with chunks of tomato and other veggies. The second variety was sambar tangy lentil soup. The spice list for this soup is long as my arm, and together the spices create an enticingly complex flavor profile. Spices for this soup include turmeric, cumin, mustard seed, curry leaves, red chilies and tamarind pulp, among others with exotic names I do not recognize. You’ll find green beans, zucchini and carrots in the broth, along with dal (orange lentils widely used in Indian cooking).
Also, from the buffet, we had eggplant cooked as a stew, with other vegetables in a tawny orange curry. This dish is called bagara baingan on the menu, which indicates it is mildly spiced, which is true. To complement the dish, try eating it with garlic naan as a scoop/fork. The combo adds to the experience, makes for fun eating, and I’m betting you love it that way, as I did.
Along with the eggplant, we had a green bean creation that featured nub-cut green beans with onions and mild seasoning. This could be a vegetable side dish or a main dish depending on your personal preferences.
Another item on the buffet that day was breaded deep-fried cauliflower, cooked to a golden brown. Delicious on its own, the flavorful veggie is enhanced by adding “special” Manchurian sauce as a topper. According to those working and refilling the buffet, the cauliflower is one of the most popular items on the menu. A taste will give you a sense of why that might be.
Since it is hard to find totally kosher options within today’s Greater Cincinnati dining scene, Amma’s Kitchen seems a natural for the Jewish community. Also, being Indian cuisine makes for a change of taste for kosher diners, who often find themselves in traditional Jewish kosher eateries where the menu is East European or Israeli. Amma’s Kitchen is neither of those.
Amma’s Kitchen features 61 entrée items on the menu, and in addition, three dinner only, dine-in specials and a kid’s special. Also, there are appetizers; soups; side dishes, such as sweet mango chutney, green salad, pickles, yogurt and raitha, a whipped yogurt dish with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and coriander; breads; and desserts.
Another section of the menu is called Indo-Chinese Flavors, and features dishes seldom found in Indian eateries. Among these are gobhi Manchurian, which is cauliflower that is fried and tossed in a sauce special to Chinese Manchuria; and idli Manchurian, featuring fried rice cakes in the same sauce.
See you at Amma’s Kitchen!
7633 Reading Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45237