>> Bhanu Indian Cuisine & Market | Eat the World Los Angeles

Saturday 24 October 2020

Bhanu Indian Cuisine & Market

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ INDIA

EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (12 February 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
The pandemic and its unfortunate and unnecessary lingering in the country are of course affecting almost every corner of beloved worlds near and far. From outward appearances though, Bhanu is the type of place that seems to have figured out how to thrive based on their own pickup and delivery orders as well as all of the delivery apps. They have had to put up a sign for those drivers and where to wait during the busy rushes.

For now, the formerly bustling interior restaurant is just being used for storage. What grew from a couple tables about ten years ago is taking up at least a third of the space and probably would continue to encroach on the market if times had not been flipped upside down.

The menu has similarly grown since the beginning, when their samosas started to impress customers and led to the kitchen trying more things. The veggie samosas ($3.49 for three, above) are actually vegan and come with both tamarind and cilantro chutneys. If anything the menu has expanded too much, if that could be possible, with foods from the entire nation now available.

This is a non-veg Indian menu but there are also plenty of meatless dishes to choose from. If you strike up a conversation with the brother and sister that own and operate the store, they will start talking about their past life in Bombay operating restaurants, so this might lead you to select more from the northern selections and street snacks like papadi chaat ($5.99, below).

Bhanu uses small crispy square papadi, great for spoonfuls and making sure you can grab as many components of the snack as possible. They are just thick enough to stay crunchy until the end but not too thick to overwhelm the chana, chutneys, yogurts, and spices. It is tangy and sweet and wonderful.

Coming in during past years for a thali of course afforded the chance to eat from the proper metal plate with different compartments for the many components. Choose your main vegetable, chicken, lamb, goat or seafood, and the chef will do the rest, with rotating sides of lentils, potatoes, or bean curries, and a different dessert.
Tandoori chicken thali $10.99.
When sharing with others, the thali is a good way to get both rice and naan to the table without making separate orders. The naan here is great for scooping, thin but firm, with the crispy bits not drying out. You might require another order of the bread eventually, and definitely should grab a cup of their brilliant masala chai ($3.99, not shown) for everyone.
Even the chicken tikka masala here is a level above most in the country, taking you back to outstanding meals in London. The sweetness is tame while spices shine through. Sometimes this dish just hits the spot when done really well. On that particular day the dessert was a rice pudding called kheer (shown below behind thali) and done impeccably. Dashed with pistachio, this required a larger order afterwards for everyone to be satisfied.
Chicken tikka masala thali ($13.99).
Since all of your thali selections and other orders are made at that moment, a spice level will be requested from mild to spicy, which actually has a great kick. Even medium does the trick for those that do not require fiery lips, but come enough and order spicy dishes and they might offer you a next level with ghost peppers.
One of their vegetable dishes requires no heat but is still one of the best creations on the menu. This palak paneer ($9.99, below) is full of rich, creamy flavor from pureed spinach, with hidden hunks of cheese. Hints of turmeric, chili powder, and cumin are under more prominent garlic and ginger.
It is hard to go wrong when perusing their extensive curry list, but a couple more great options are below. Their lamb dishes are all cooked very well, and one of the best ways to order it is as lamb kadai ($13.99, below). This uses good cuts of meat stir-fried in a dish of the same name which is also known as karahi.
The meat, gravy, bell peppers, and spices combine to make each bite a flavor bomb. You will see people eating this for lunch or dinner, but this northern Indian curry is possibly best late at night, cooked along the road and served at tables crammed with other hungry souls.

On another occasion when craving lamb, the wonderfully creamy lamb korma ($14.99, below) was requested. This dish also hearkens back to meals in London rather than straight to the subcontinent, because in addition to the customary yogurt, it also adds the nuttiness of cashew.

If you prefer to stay away from what those barbaric English folks enjoy, not to worry as the curry list continues with vindaloo, jalfrezi, and chili curries all made with each meat, as well as the Kashmiri-spiced lamb dish rogan josh. For those nights, you can also add the famous pink chai from Kashmir as well.


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