For a year, Los Angeles got a taste of Akasha Richmond's love of Indian food, born of the chef's extensive travels in the region. Richmond's modern Indian restaurant in Culver City, Sambar, closed in 2016, to be replaced by AR Cucina. But just because the space flipped to Italian doesn't mean that Richmond has lost her passion for Indian food. Here are her five favorite places in L.A. to eat Indian, now that she doesn't serve any of her own takes on the cuisine.
“One of my friends from Kerala told me that Annapurna has the best dosa, which I ate every morning for breakfast during a recent trip to India. I agree with her, and when you are craving a dosa (which take two days to make), Annapurna is the place. You must order the 'Paper Dosa,' which is thin and very crispy, with some masala potatoes on the side. Dosasmust be eaten with your hands and always come with sambar and chutney. The idli, sambar, vegetables, yellow dal (my favorite) and chutneys are also very good.” 10200 Venice Blvd., Culver City; (310) 204-5500, annapurnacuisine.com.
“I love that I can get an authentic Kerala puttu (rice and coconut cake) with channa masala or chicken curry with an appam (lacy, spongy rice pancake) five minutes away from where I am every day. These are not the kind of dishes you whip up in a moment/s notice. (I learned how to make puttu, appam and idiyappam on a recent trip to India from Nimmy Paul, which was one of the best cooking classes I ever took.) Also try the utthapam, dosa and Kerala avial – a stir-fried vegetable dish with coconut.” 10406 Venice Blvd., Culver City; (310) 559-9644, mayura-indian-restaurant.com.
“I love the owners of Badmaash. Pawan, the dad and chef, is one of the best chefs I know. He is really talented, and has endless knowledge about spices. The sons, Arjun and 'Knuckle,' are so cool, just the best guys. My favorites include the butter chicken samosa, ghost chile lamb vindaloo, and Dad’s famous curry coconut mussels. But everything Pawan makes is great. Can’t wait until they open a second location. We are really lucky they came to Los Angeles.”108 W. Second St., downtown; (213) 221-7466, badmaashla.com.
2. Samosa House
“Sometimes I pick up things I need for catering events at Samosa House, and I always bring back snacks for my kitchen. I love the Samosa chaat, with chickpeas and chutney coated with crispy sev (chickpea noodles). I also love their dhokla (a spongy bread made from fermented lentils), methi chapati, saag, and sometimes they have Punjabi khadi, a simple comfort-food curry made with a base of onions, ginger, chickpea flour, yogurt and pakora.” 11510 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; (310) 398-6766, samosahouse.com.
1. Surati Farsan Mart
“When I get down to Little India I always hit the Surati Farsan Mart for crunchy snack mixes, spicy nuts and other fun snacks like sev puri and khandavi; a chickpea flour, yogurt and spice mixture that you cook like polenta, spread thin and then roll up when it’s cooled. While I'm nearby, I always stop at Pioneer Cash and Carry, which stocks produce you rarely see, like white turmeric and drumsticks, and great brands like 24Mantra, India’s leading producer of organic foods.” 11814 186th St., Artesia; (562) 860-2310, suratifarsan.com.