As I’ve mentioned before, the French seem to have an inordinate fear of spice. Which is fine if you’re willing to subsist on croque monsieurs, but sometimes I crave a little heat, a little exotic, a little wow. Happily, I have discovered all that and more at Krishna Bhavan, a vegetarian Indian restaurant next to the Gare du Nord. Not only is their food spicily delicious, but being from the south subcontinent (or possibly Sri Lanka), they specialize in dosas, idli, sambar, and upma — quite possibly my favorite foods in the world.
I love the texture of dosas (photo above) — crisp in some spots, spongy in others — as well as the slightly tart tanginess that comes from their ground, fermented rice and lentil flour batter. You can order them plain (4.50€), or filled with a spicy potato mixture (masala dosa, 5€). Tear off bits of the crepe and dip them alternately into the spicy, soupy lentil sambar or coconut chutney.
The sambhar vadai (2.50€, pictured top, brownish, with cilantro on top) is a doughnut of lentil flour submerged into a bowl of spicy, soupy lentil sambar, the whole hearty and satisfyingly stodgy. The lentil soup (pictured bottom, lemon yellow with cilantro) has a soothing coconut creaminess. Chai tea was milky and fragrant with the bite of cardamom, cinnamon, black peppercorns and other spices. I have found further subcontinent satisfaction from the idli, or steamed rice cakes, dipped into more sambar. I also love their upma (3.50€), a savory, starchy pile of semolina, like an Indian variation of couscous, eaten with highly spiced vegetables and… more sambar.
The best part about Krishna Bhavan is the food. But the second best part is the price. This is a genuine cheap eat — I have never spent more than 20€ here — for two people. And on both occasions my dining companion and I ate like it was the last food we would ever see — and we STILL had food left over.
I’ve read recently on some food websites that some people think it’s “wrong” or “nonsensical” to eat non-French food in Paris. Maybe so, mes amis. Stick with your uninspired baguette sandwiches if you like. I’ll be chowing down like a pig with its feed at Krishna Bhavan.
24 rue Cail, 10ème, métro: Gare du Nord
Tel: 01 42 05 78 43
Open 7 days a week
View their menu here.