SaMo high: Chandni's samosas

SaMo high: Chandni’s samosas

Kulcha club: Lobhia (right) and onion flatbread

Kulcha club: Lobhia (right) and onion flatbread

Comfort food: Rurka alu

Comfort food: Rurka alu

Chandni (1909 Wilshire Blvd., near 19th St. ), a vegetarian Indian restaurant just a couple of blocks away in Santa Monica, has supplied us with many delicious and satisfying meals in the past year. The name, as the website explains, means “moon,” which in turn is connected with motherhood and, by extension, Mom’s cooking. The connotation is apt, since Chandni’s fare really does come across as simple, nourishing food straight from the kitchen of a Punjabi mother or grandmother. Tonight we started, as always, with our two lassis, mango and sweet mint, both of them sweet and tangy yogurt-based beverages ideal for quenching any spiciness in the meal but cool and refreshing in their own right. For an appetizer, we chose samosas, triangular fried pastries filled with a savory, slightly spicy blend of potatoes and peas. Both elements, the filling and the crisp outer layer, reminiscent of an egg roll without the grease, were tasty enough to eat independently, but the overall package was so good that we completely ignored the chutneys meant to accompany it. For our entrées, we chose our usual lobhia and rurka alu—the former, black-eyed peas allowed to shine without undue meddling; the latter, chewy, layered potato balls in a tomato-onion sauce that manages to be sweet, savory, piquant, and spicy all at the same time. Instead of rice, we ordered onion kulcha, a warm, toasty flatbread stuffed with caramelized onions that peek out from the air-bubble craters in the surface; it served very nicely to mop up the remaining sauce from the rurka alu. Chandni’s Indian comfort food is matched by the homey comfort of the restaurant itself, with its commodious banquettes, soft Indian music, and genial owner. It’s nothing fancy, but neither is Mom’s kitchen, and when you want food that soothes your spirit, it’s hard to do better than that.


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