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Krishna Bhavan

August 19, 2010

I can’t believe we didn’t go to Krishna Bhavan earlier.

Krishna Bhavan is a little vegetarian Indian/Tamil restaurant in the heart of Little Jaffna, near Gare du Nord. I suppose I was nervous about going there since vegetarian Indian food is often pretty cream- and ghee-heavy, both of which I’d really like to avoid. But we gave it a try, and had a fantastic meal there.

The restaurant is actually divided in two: on one side of the street is the sit-down half, and on the other side of the street is the take-away half. You shouldn’t go into either half expecting lots of luxury, but it’s a comfortable, relaxed place to have a meal. 

The truth is, we were kind of dumb. I had never had Indian food like what they have at Krishna Bhavan, and since each of the plats was only about 5 euros, I expected them to be quite small. So, I got a plate of samosas, in addition to our plats. This was a mistake, since we ended up with way too much food, but it was also wonderful, since the samosas were awesome.

For our main meal, each of us got a dhosa which, as it turns out, is like a very thin, slightly crispy rice pancake that’s filled with delicious stuff. Each dhosa also comes with another stew (which I think is for dipping your excess dhosa in), some onion chutney, and the best coconut puree I’ve ever had. It’s a mound of fresh coconut that’s filled with spices (I think there were mustard seeds and lime leaves–the other seasonings will have to remain a mystery), which I’m pretty sure I could eat continuously for the rest of my life.

To our great surprise, these dhosas are *huge.* First, imagine a dhosa the size of your head. Now, triple that–and you have a Krishna Bhavan dhosa.

Above, you see a masala dhosa, a rice pancake rolled around potatoes seasoned with garam masala (among other things), followed by a mushroom dhosa, a rice pancake folded around some spicy, bright red mushrooms. Both were absolutely delicious.

I’m starting to feel a little defensive of Krishna Bhavan. I’ve heard some people complain, among other things, that it’s in an undesirable neighborhood, which honestly baffles me. It’s not on one of the cutesy Parisian streets you tend to find in the inner arrondissements, but it’s in the kind of neighborhood that’s typical of more residential outer arrondissements. It’s also, I think, I really fun place to walk around–everything smells amazing (since many of the stores are selling 5 pound bags of spices, herbs, and incense), and window-shopping is very enjoyable, since the windows are filled with colorful saris. 

I admit it: we went here twice in one week. But, there’s no good reason not to when it’s both inexpensive and delicious.

Update:

We went back to Krishna Bhavan a few days ago, and ran into the very exciting Hindu Chariot Festival parade. We managed to see most of the dancers and floats.

We also saw lots of smashed coconuts,

as well as vendors handing out free rice.

The streets were also beautifully decorated.

Since things were unusually busy at Krishna Bhavan during the festival, we decided to get our dhosas to go. We each got a masala dhosa,

along with onion chutney,

vegetable stew,

and the best coconut puree on the planet.

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