Most Indian restaurants specialize in Northern Indian dishes. Mayura's lunchtime buffet is a chance to delve into South Indian cuisine, specifically that of the tropical state of Kerala on India's Southwest coast, where you'll find more coconut, tamarind, and plenty of yogurt, lentils, chiles and rice. For $8.95 the buffet includes at least 10 dishes (which may change depending on the day), including nonvegetarian fare, like tandoori chicken, fish curry or chicken biryani; there is a wide assortment of vegetarian dishes, not to mention a great variety of chutneys and pickles. Be sure to sample some of the uniquely South Indian dishes: the soupy sambar (a vegetable stew made from tamarind and pigeon peas), and the salty, spicy rasam (using tomatoes and lentils), which goes well over the tangy yogurt rice. There is an embarrassment of starchy riches with which to soak up all of these, including the Northern Indian dish of doughy naan bread and peppery pappadum; the South Indian dosa (like a crispy crepe) and appam (a rice-batter, white pancake that is simply extraordinary when combined with the rich, sweet coconut chutney) and a variety of rice dishes. 10406 Venice Blvd., Culver City. (310) 559-9644.

—Jedd Birkner

LA Weekly