Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seva: A question of consistency

I've been into Seva ever since I first discovered the place, but a few things seem to have changed in its offerings, both for better and for worse. I still count Seva among my favorite restaurants in Astoria, but it seems to be pretty inconsistent in its offerings and preparations, so I've been finding it hard to peg what kind of experience I'm going to get when I step in there.

The veggie samosa comes as one of the appetizer choices for the $7 lunch special, which includes either the samosa or mulligatawny soup, an entree, and basmati rice (this special used to be $8, but also included a drink). I've had the samosa a couple of times now, and it's always been good. Well balanced flavor, and Seva seems to have a knack for frying items while keeping the greasiness to a minimum.
I liked the new eggplant chat dish both times I had it, an appetizer which consists of tender slices of Japanese eggplant coated in a chickpea flour batter and served with pickled onions, mint chutney, and tamarind chutney. But FoodMayhem paid Seva a visit recently and ate what appears to be a somewhat different version of the same dish.
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Sadly, the bok choy crispy curls have gone downhill. On the left is the appetizer as I first had it; the bok choy was fried in a really light batter, and the focus was on the vegetable and not the coating. Now, the appetizer is made with a different batter that's more crunchy than crisp, and the fritters taste heavy. The current portion size is nearly half that of its previous incarnation.
The malai kofta at Seva is probably one of the best versions I've ever had, though I can't claim to eating malai kofta often. Unlike the dense rounds of unknown matter that usually appear in this dish, Seva's vegetable balls were tender, loosely packed croquettes of potato, cheese, raisins, and fresh-tasting vegetables. The creamy sauce pooled around them managed to taste both rich and light. Since this was the first time I ordered this dish here I can't say whether or not it's changed, but now that I've tried it I am a fan.

On another occasion, I tried a piece of their suji halwa—a moist, lightly sweet semolina cake that also happens to be vegan—and liked it a lot. Prices are still exceptional, and Seva's convenient location to TL's apartment means that I'll probably keep going for a while yet. I'll just cross my fingers that the restaurant starts being more consistent for the better, and that they bring back the old recipe for the bok choy crispy curls!


  1. just eating a lotta fried crap there? we gotta go for real indian sometime; you can't make a meal of pakoras, even if sometimes they are served swimming in sauce.

  2. Dang, I didn't even realize I was eating a straight menu of fried that day. I've had Seva's curries and non-fried items on other occasions, and they're generally pretty good.