Meena's Kitchen

Nashua, New Hampshire


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rating star

Meena's offers some of the finer, more delicate Indian food I've eaten in the US. And that's quite a compliment, because my parents are from India, and I've been eating Indian food for thirty years.

First and foremost, the food here isn't doused in oil and cream and butter. It doesn't make you hate yourself after eating it, like most generic North Indian restaurants make me want to do. Second, Meena's takes some risks and dares to break the mold of vegetarian Indian food by offering some unusual creations (especially vegan ones).

We started off with the samosas ($5 for two). These were delicious: crispy, golden and nicely seasoned on the inside. I liked that the potatoes and peas still had some crunch left to them and weren't overcooked.

We also had a "date shake" ($5). Here's one of those breaking-the-mold offerings. Basically, this was a drink consisting of dates, coconut milk and chai seasonings (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon). It was delicious, as you could imagine, but it was remarkable for one main reason: Meena's chose to use coconut milk instead of dairy milk to make this shake. I can count on a single hand the number of Indian restaurants in the US (and probably the entire world) which would have the ingenuity to do something like this, and effectively offer a vegan alternative to the normally dairy-heavy dessert/drink offerings of Indian food.

Next we had a "pesarattu" ($10) which is similar to a dosa. I really liked the taste of this, but I'm not sure it was a great value for the money.

I also got the day's "Six Course Meal" ($15) which is basically an all-you-can-eat thali. Instead of a buffet set-up, you instead get a set menu of six dishes and, after having tried all six, you can decide which dishes you want seconds or thirds or fourths of. When I went, five of the six dishes were vegan by default, and the final one (the dessert) could be made vegan. However, this isn't always the case, so make sure you can get at least four of the dishes made vegan.

I was really impressed with the spinach dosa, which was subtle and flavorful. I also liked the black daal curry. The daal mango soup was a bold choice and offered some strongly tart and delicious flavors. However, I wasn't too keen on the chickpea curry or the bhajia, both of which tasted pedestrian. The tapioca pudding dessert, which was made vegan for me by using coconut milk, was tasty but I wish they'd cooked the tapioca longer (it came out dry and starchy, rather than soft and chewy). That said, it's uber-rare to get a vegan dessert in an Indian restaurant. Lastly, the chapati was excellent: home-made and fresh and soft.

Meena's offers excellent, unusual and home-cooked Indian food with numerous vegan options. The service was friendly and helpful. My only suggestions for improvement would be to add even more vegan dishes (how about something with tofu or tempeh or seitan?) and take even more risks with the menu.

rating star

Wonderful South Indian vegetarian food, a lot of which is vegan friendly. They specialize in dosas which are all excellent (and HUGE!), and street foods like Gobi Manchurian as well. If you've only had the North Indian food that is more commonly available in restaurants in New England, this is a nice departure. Service was really slow when I came here but they were understaffed due to an emergency so I would chalk this up to an isolated incident and would definitely go back, especially given how good the food is. The space is clean and bright with lots of windows and you can see into the kitchen where food is being prepared.

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