On Saturdays I watch 3 hours of Bollywood entertainment shows. It’s like Access Hollywood; but Bollywood style; Showbiz India, Namaste America, and Asian Variety Television. I am a huge Bollywood fan, literally obsessed with all things Bollywood. I watch in delight the dancing of Hrithik Roshan, and the comic genius if Shah Rukh Khan, and the sexiness of Kareena Kapoor Khan. I know a lot about Bollywood and it’s culture. After my Bollywood marathon on Saturdays I always want to go out for Indian food. So before my tasting at Mayura I watched 2 hours of my favorite taped Bollywood programs. Bollywood is a passion that I have that a lot of folks don’t know about. This viewing made me madly crave Indian food for lunch, so this tasting was just the right timing.
Their location is in a strip mall in an ethnic Venice Boulevard neighborhood, down the street from some major Hollywood studios. Pretty much the last place you think to find a fine high quality regional Indian cuisine. The interior is very basic, with a large flat screen TV showing Bollywood highlights.
There are lots of different food regions in India, as well as regions for different types of films. This restaurant is famous for its Kerala delights. Mayura is a Kerala-style (Southern Indian) restaurant, the strip of southern India that touches the Arabian Sea, a cosmopolitan region, shaped by a thousand years of spice trading, whose food is influenced by Nayar Hindus, Muslims, Syrian Christians and even an ancient community of Jews.
The day that I went they were celebrating ONAM. Onam (Malayalam:) is a Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala, India. It is also the Harvest festival of Kerala with State holidays on 4 days starting from Onam Eve (Uthradom) to the 4rd Onam Day. Onam Festival falls during the Malayalam month of Chingam (Aug – Sep) and marks the commemoration of Vamana avatara of Vishnu and the subsequent homecoming of mythical King Mahabali. Onam is reminiscent of Kerala’s agrarian past, as it is considered to be a harvest festival. In Kerala, it is the festival celebrated with most number of cultural elements such as Vallam Kali, Pulikkali, Pookkalam, Onatthappan, Thumbi Thullal, Onavillu, Kazhchakkula, Atthachamayam etc. Their grand celebratory buffet consisted of many sauces, dips, salads and curries. Really deliciously different, with a sparkling array of Indian flavors.
On the buffet there were so may curries and sauces to taste that I lost track of their names. But what was lost in translation was not lost on my taste buds. Everything was a glorious treat. The one thing that really got my attention was the Kerala Fish Curry, fish bathed in a creamy and assertive broth with turmeric. Located on the Malabar Coast, Kerala is famous for its seafood preparations. I felt like I had traveled to India, and experienced this historic joyous celebration first hand.
Owners Aniyan Puthanpurayil and Padmini Aniyan have numerous famous clients that you can see on their photo wall. It appears that Mayura is a very family oriented establishment. This place is the most popular Indian restaurant in this Venice boulevard neighborhood. There was a line to the buffet that wrapped itself around the inside and the outside of the restaurant. The ladies wore their customary sarees and some of the men wore their customary Indian shirts, called kurtas. Everyone was hungry and seemed very excited to be eating this food on this day.
Here’s the food I ordered off the menu:
Vegetable Samosa, deep-fried crispy crust stuffed with mixed vegetables. Served with 2 sauces one sweet and one hot, very savory stuff.
Aloo Gobi, potato and cauliflower cooked in savory sauce. This is such a great dish, lots of spices but mild on the heat meter.
Raita, yogurt with cucumber and onion. This is guaranteed to cool your palate with its nice chilled yogurt and mild cucumber and onions.
Garlic, Ginger, or Kulcha Naan, lots of rich garlic flavors, and nice ginger spice makes this a great dipping bread.
Chicken Tikka Masala, boneless chicken tikka cooked in curry sauce. The chicken is tender squares, and the sauce is very delectable, once again a great buttery curry sauce.
Mushroom Masala, button mushroom cooked with garlic spices. Very rich and dark, but if you’re a mushroom lover then this should be your vegetable side dish.
Mutter Paneer, peas with Indian cheese in a savory sauce. One of my favorite Indian dishes and this one is truly a gem. The sauce is a beautiful color, with nice curry richness, and buttery goodness.
Mayura Special Shrimp Biryani with shrimp with special seasoning cooked in with rice, tomatoes onion and shrimp. Kind of like Chinese fried rice, but so much better. The seasonings are so exotic, the flavors just sing in your mouth, what a treat.
These are the drinks that I tried:
Lassi – Mango, sweet, salt. It provides the palate with a nice cleansing feeling.
Shakes – Vanilla, mango, banana, rose. His one is a little more rich then the Lassi, but equally delicious.
Flying Horse – India. This is a nice break from my usual wines that I order with my tastings. Beer is just a better beverage with Indian food, with all its spicy nuances. This beer had a nice clean flavor with just a little bit of bitterness.
Taj Mahal – India. I liked this beer as well; it has more of a crisp feel on the palate.
Everything I tried was a delightful experience. Some of the dishes were hot and some were smooth and savory. You really need to come here with an open mind, and enjoy this real traditional Indian grub.
So now every Saturday after my Bollywood marathon I know I have a place to imbibe in the true Kerala food experience. So if you want authentic Indian cuisine with a capital A, come to Mayura now. Mayura is a must for Indian food lovers seeking hyper-regional fare outside of Artesia’s Little India. When you’re craving this kind of delicious Indian food, give Mayura a try!
Mayura Indian Restaurant
10406 Venice Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Phone: (310) 559-9644