By Gianna Mautone, VRG Intern
Purely vegetarian, authentic South and North Indian fare offered in a very casual, friendly environment – this is what defines a dining experience at Sapthagiri in Jersey City, NJ. On a Thursday night, the restaurant was lively and full of patrons, many of whom appeared to be regulars. The restaurant is medium-sized, with enough space for approximately 50 people and some outdoor seating in the front. Sapthagiri offers an extensive, purely vegetarian menu, with many vegan options clearly indicated. If not 100% vegan, various dishes are listed as having a “vegan option available.” The menu also specifies which dishes are gluten-free, low carb and low fat. The staff at Sapthagiri are very compassionate toward vegetarian and vegan eating, which made the experience very comfortable and enjoyable. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very friendly and welcoming, as the owner and waiter cracked jokes with our party and offered very attentive service throughout the duration of our dinner.
Our table ordered a variety of items to share, which made for a fun dining experience. We started with a sample plate as an appetizer. The plate featured an Idly (steamed rice cake), a Vada (fried lentil donut), a Masala Vadla (flat fried donut made with lentils, peanuts, garlic and spices), an Aloo Bonda (potato dumpling coated in chickpea batter), and a Samosa (crispy, flaky crust stuffed with potatoes and green peas).
A feature item on the menu is the Dosa, a thin crepe made from rice and lentils. The dosas were all served with a chutney and sambar (a spicy vegetable stew). The “Mysore Masala Dosa” came stuffed with potatoes, onions, peas, cashew nuts and a spicy sauce, while the “Paper Dosa” (a very long, crispy crepe) was served plain and intended to be ripped and dipped into the chutney or spread with curried potatoes. The Paper Dosa was huge, perfect for sharing and full of crisp flavor. Both Dosa plates were delicious and I enjoyed sampling the various spreads and dips that were served alongside.
In addition to the Dosa, another Indian bread that our table ordered was the Poori (a very fluffy fried whole wheat bread). The Poori was served with a side of channa masala, spiced chick peas. In my opinion, the channa masala was seasoned perfectly – the heat of the dish and its flavorful spices were balanced and complimented each other just right.
An extensive list of South Indian and North Indian curries are also available on the menu. The curry dish I tried featured vegetables cooked in coconut milk with a spicy kick and was served along side a bowl of rice. I enjoyed the spiciness of this dish, though the waiter informed me that he requested it be made at medium spice, so it could have been made even hotter. The waitstaff was very accommodating to any special requests or additions our party asked for.
The variety of authentic Indian spices, flavors and Dosa that I tried at Sapthagiri made for an interesting and enjoyable dining experience. As someone who had limited knowledge of Indian cuisine, I felt that Sapthagiri’s descriptive menu and helpful waitstaff made for an easy and welcoming experience. I will definitely be back to Sapthagiri soon. There are over 100 items on the menu, many of which I have my eye on!
For more information about Sapthagiri, visit their website: http://www.sapthagiri.biz/index.aspx. For more information about other vegan/vegetarian restaurants around the U.S. and Canada, see our Restaurant Guide at: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php.