Photograph by Jeremy Kramer
Muthu “Kumar” Muthiah has come a long way from his line-cook days at the Chennai Sheraton. In 2008, he and his wife, Kundhavai Subramaniyan, bought the former Udipi Café on Reading Road and renamed it Amma’s (Mother’s) in reference to the traditional southern Indian and Indo-Chinese vegetarian cuisine he planned to cook. With a sizable Orthodox Jewish community nearby, Muthia saw an opportunity: If he was going to cook vegetarian, why not also make it kosher? Muthiah prepares every item—from the addictively crunchy gobhi Manchurian, a spicy Chinese cauliflower dish, to the lemon pickle, tamarind, and mint sauces—entirely from scratch under the careful eye of Rabbi Michoel Stern. While the cuisine is always 80 percent vegan, the daily lunch buffet is 100 percent animal-product-free on Wednesdays. Never fear, omnivores—no soy frankenfoods here. Instead, tuck into a warm and savory channa masala (spiced chickpeas) or malai kofta (vegetable dumplings in tomato sauce) from the curry menu. Or tear into a crispy, two-foot diameter dosa (chickpea flour crepe) stuffed with spiced onions and potatoes. Better yet, belly up to the thali (above), India’s answer to the tasting menu. Amma’s may be a humble kitchen in a neighborhood still yearning for transition, but like any good mama’s joint, the sauce is steeped with comfort in mind.
7633 Reading Rd., Roselawn, (513) 821-2021, ammaskitchen.com