Hindus across India and around the world will be celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, on Sunday. For most, this includes elaborate celebratory meals in the days leading up to the holiday and after, often at home. But if you don't have an Indian grandmother (or grandfather) to cook for you, here are four restaurants in the Los Angeles area where you can partake in the culinary festivities. And they each represent different regions of Indian cuisine.
At this 3-year-old restaurant in downtown L.A., chef Pawan Mahendro's wife, Anu Mahendro, will be behind the stove cooking a special Diwali dinner tasting menu called Thali. The meal is vegetarian, and available for six nights, from Nov. 1 to 6. Featured dishes include khati-meeti kadu (Punjabi-style roasted pumpkin), shahi paneer (Indian cheese curry), karam ka saag (sautéed mustard greens) and Punjabi kheer (warm basmati rice pudding). Dinner includes roti, rice and Indian pickles. The tasting menu is $25 per person, and reservations are recommended. 108 W. 2nd St., Los Angles, (213) 221-7466, www.badmaashla.com.
L.A. Times readers may know this Culver City restaurant from Jonathan Gold's 101 Best Restaurants list. The restaurant offers a Diwali buffet menu, available for lunch only on Oct. 29 and 30, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dishes are in the style of Kerala, including a variety of idli (savory cakes), puri (fried bread), appam (rice pancakes) naan breads and dosas to start. Entrees include vegetable biryani, fish curry, and chettinadu chicken, a spicy chicken curry dish from the region. To finish, Mayura will be serving a variety of Indian sweets, including carrot halwa and unniyappam, the deep-fried, golf ball-sized spheres made of rice, jaggery, banana, coconut, sesame seeds, ghee and cardamom. Mango lassi, Indian beer and other drinks will also be available. The buffet is $17.95 per person, and reservations are recommended. 10406 Venice Blvd., Culver City,(310) 559-9644, mayura-indian-restaurant.com.
This Beverly Hills dining room and banquet hall will offer elaborate Diwali buffet menus Saturday and Sunday, featuring a fresh vada pao station (vada pao are a sort of Indian burger made of spiced potato patties served on white buns). On Oct. 30, the menu will be more South Indian in flavor, with a variety of biryanis available. Select Diwali specials will also be on the menu Thursday through Sunday, including a sun-dried tomato, olive, and onion bhajiya (another kind of street food fritter popular in Mumbai), goat achari (a curry dish), shrimp balchao (a spicy dish in tomato-chile sauce), shaam savera (a spinach kofta dish) and a variety of desserts. The Diwali buffet is $35 per person and available for lunch only, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Diwali specials will be available Thursday through Sunday, for both lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended. 50 N. La Cienega Blvd. #120, Beverly Hills, (310) 730-8076, www.spice-affair.com.
For a full taste of Diwali, head to Little India in Artesia, where there will be festivities throughout the end of October and the first week of November. At local standby Jay Bharat, special Diwali dishes will be featured on the menu Tuesday through Sunday. These dishes originate in the Gujarat region of India and include the popular street food mashup dabeli (a bun snack), rotla (a kind of flatbread) with the smoked and mashed eggplant dish baingan bharta, and khasta kachori, a fried puff pastry filled with spiced mung bean paste. 18701 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia, (562) 924-3310, jaybharat.com.