The word kosher in Hebrew literally means “fit” or “appropriate,” according to My Jewish Learning, a clearinghouse for articles and more on the Jewish experience. The word finds its roots or origin in the Jewish Bible, and the idea of kosher food was developed by rabbis in late antiquity.
Hard to find totally kosher options within today’s Greater Cincinnati dining scene that are not intrinsically linked to the Jewish community in some way. One of those outside Jewish tradition and ties is Amma’s Kitchen, which its proprietors say is “serving authentic Indian vegetarian flavors.” So, vegetarian, to the exclusion of meat or seafood products of any kind. That works. Amma’s Kitchen menu goes a step farther: “Kosher certified — Supervised by Cincinnati Kosher.”
This Indian restaurant is located at 7633 Reading Road in the Roselawn area (close to the erstwhile and once famous Valley theatre/shopping center, which is still there, sans theatre). Upon visiting the restaurant around two in the afternoon, I noticed several Jewish diners among patrons. Several tables or booths were occupied by ethnic Indians as well – always a good sign in the authenticity of the food department.
One of the Jewish diners, who wished to remain unnamed, had this to say about Amma’s Kitchen and the food: “I come here maybe two, three times a week for lunch. It’s close (to where he works) and it’s all vegetarian, kosher, so that’s good. But the food is good too; I like the buffet because there are always a lot of choices and it’s not bland; great flavors and that can be hard to find with strictly vegetarian dishes.”
Favorites? “I really like the (palak paneer), the spinach and cheese with the spices. That’s my favorite, but the rice dishes and the curries and dal, the lentils with cumin and garlic, all those dishes are really good and tasty,” he said.
In looking over the menu, there are several dishes that spark interest, some on the buffet, some not. The mutter paneer is always a good choice for me. This dish features peas and cottage cheese mixed in a creamy onion and tomato sauce. The dish is especially good when eaten with naan or roti, white and wheat flatbreads, respectively, baked in the Amma’s Kitchen tandoor oven. I use the flatbread as my fork and the combo is delicious.
More favorites of mine include: the bagara baingan, aka spicy eggplant; and vegetable korma, or fresh veggies cooked in coconut cream. The eggplant is done in a curry sauce that alone can be spicy. This dish and most every dish can be adjusted to provide the spice profile the diner may prefer, but probably not from the buffet. On the buffet, one takes what one gets.
In the case of the Jewish diner mentioned here, he said when he first came into Amma’s Kitchen some years ago, his threshold for spiciness was low, mild was best. But as he tried more spicy dishes, he realized that some of the spiciness was to his liking.
“For instance, the tamarind rice has a pretty hot, spicy sauce to it, and I really love that rice dish,” he said. “I order that when I am in the mood for it; usually in the winter when it’s cold and raw outside.”
Amma’s Kitchen features 61 entree 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.
Amma’s Kitchen features a luncheon buffet every day of the week, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and on weekends and holidays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dining a la carte is available from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily, seven days a week.
See you at Amma’s Kitchen!
7633 Reading Road
Cincinnati, Ohio, 45237