Where to get stellar South Indian dishes in Pasadena

Where to get stellar South Indian dishes in Pasadena
Shrimp coconut curry, dal tadka, Karaikudi chicken kurma and garlic naan at Annapurna Grill in Pasadena. (Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

Name of  restaurant:  Annapurna Grill. This restaurant, which opened five months ago on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, is the same as Annapurna Cuisine in Culver City, except that it serves meat. The original Annapurna specializes in South Indian vegetarian food; its most popular dishes are on the menu here too. The head chef is Suresh Albin, who is from Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu. Both restaurants are owned by Suneel Ralangi, who is from Andhra Pradesh.

What you're watching: If you go on the weekend around lunchtime, you'll likely be waiting for a table. Fortunately, there are a few flatscreen televisions to keep you company, often showing cricket. Yes, cricket.


What to eat:  South Indian dishes that are hard to find even in  Artesia's Little India community.  Spicy vepudu chicken is from the state of Andhra Pradesh. (Vepudu means "fried" in Telugu, the language there.) The Chettinad-style sauce for Karaikudi chicken kurma includes fresh coconut. Chettinad in Tamil Nadu state is known for spicy food, so anything with that name attached will be hot with chiles.  Annapurna's Chettinad chicken is mellow and a little sweet. Shrimp coconut curry blends the cuisines of two southern states. The spice masala is from Tamil Nadu; the coconut milk represents Kerala. Also on the menu are very good masala fried fish and goat pepper fry. There are biryanis, and also an extensive dosa section, including a "four foot long" family dosa.

Annapurna Grill's egg kothu paratha.
Annapurna Grill's egg kothu paratha. (Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

What egg-lovers should orderEgg kothu paratha with chicken curry. Kothu is Tamil for "chopped," which is how this dish is prepared. Flaky house-made parathas are grilled in butter, chopped and mixed with chopped scrambled eggs, cabbage, onion and bell pepper. All of this is fried on the grill and then mounded into a dome. Chicken curry comes on the side; vegetarians can have vegetable kurma instead.

Is there any North Indian food?  Yes, there is very good chicken seekh kabab, also lamb seekh kabab, chicken tandoori, chicken tikka and tandoori shrimp. The house chicken tikka masala is rich with onion gravy, cashews and cream.

Shrimp coconut curry and rice at Annapurna Grill in Pasadena.
Shrimp coconut curry and rice at Annapurna Grill in Pasadena. (Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

When to go:  Lunch specials attract nearby office workers. Lingering over dinner is possible because two-hour parking restrictions on nearby streets end at 6 p.m. (Word of mouth is attracting the Indian community as well as locals.)

What it looks like: A sleek, contemporary restaurant with an open kitchen. The bare wall will soon be covered by a photo mural of Indian temples, beaches and other tourist sites.  The same mural will go on the wall at Annapurna in Culver City in order to link the two restaurants.

Info: 929 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 584-1111,