Buffet lunch

Flavors in Counterpoint (Amaravati Indian Cuisine)

Amaravati Indian Cuisine, 116 Flock Road, Hamilton, NJ
Open M, W, Th 12 PM-3 PM; 5:30 PM-10 PM; F, Sa, Su 12 PM-3:30 PM, 5:30 PM-10:30 PM. Closed Tuesdays.
(609) 721-3347   Website    Google Maps

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A great Indian meal is like Baroque music:  each dish (voice) should be distinct.  Polyphony and counterpoint are more important than harmony.   Executing these subtle variations in spicing and preparation requires extra effort.   Amaravati is one of the few restaurants in this area that takes this trouble and we strongly recommend it.

Frankly, it’s been a tough couple of years for Indian restaurants in greater-Trenton as several good ones have gone out of business.  Amaravati’s location in a strip mall on Flock Road was originally developed by Mylai Masala, for years our favorite, which went out of business in 2017.  We’re pleased to discover that its replacement is a worthy successor.

Amaravati Exterior

Amaravati opened in February of 2018.  Its menu emphasizes vegetarian cuisine, but offers chicken, lamb, goat, and seafood as well.  It provides a breadth of cuisines that is unusual:

  • Mughlai, the cuisine which originated among the Persian rulers of India starting in the 16th century (the foundation of most US Indian restaurants).  The Persians were meat eaters (unlike the predominantly Hindu Indians who were vegetarian), and the cuisine fused middle-eastern preparations with uniquely Indian spices, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
  • Dosas (lentil crepes) and Utappams (lentil pancakes) which originated in southern India.  These grilled specialties are combined with different vegetarian fillings, and sauces such as sambar (lentil and mixed vegetable soup) and rassam (lentils and tomato with a tamarind stock).
  • Tandoori cooking, which is based on a special clay oven and open fires (sometimes described as Indian BBQ).   Best known for roast chicken, but seafood, lamb, lamb sausages, and even cauliflower kebabs are prepared in it.
  • Chaats, originally the “street food” of Bombay, purchased from open-air stalls.  Chaats are served as “small plates” (like Indian tapas), and combine multiple vegetarian elements, typically with both crisp and soft textures, smothered in tangy sauces.  Combine several plates for a light meal with a friend, or sample as an appetizer.

Unless you can go to an Indian restaurant with a group of friends (in order to sample a range of dishes), one of the best ways to enjoy Indian food is via a good buffet.  Amaravati’s weekday lunch buffet is outstanding, providing 4 or 5 vegetarian entrees and (from a separate table to the right) 4 or 5 meat entrees (emphasizing chicken).  The header image shows my selections at a recent lunch.  The food is strongly and individually spiced (remember, polyphony), not overly greasy, and provided a range of preparations. textures, and ingredients.

At $10.99, it’s not cheap, but given the selection and quality, reasonably priced.

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Indian | Restaurants

One thought on “Flavors in Counterpoint”

  1. Impressed! We’d initially stayed away because of the garish lights and inability to see inside because of the window decals, but we took a chance. Food was excellent. Dosas, lentil “doughnuts”, and lots more veg options. Kadai paneer was superb. Sometimes hard to get their attention, but incredibly gracious when they do visit. The “medium” heat level request was still pretty spicy, so be forewarned. We’ll be back!

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