A Taste of India

Lively South Asian & North Indian flavors at Veda

Philadelphia is often regarded as a melting pot of cultures, which is most apparent in the city’s food culture. Wandering the streets, you will see restaurants from nearly every background and ethnicity serving authentic dishes that may be new to your palette. As a recovered picky eater, living in the city has done wonders for exposing my taste buds to flavors from around the globe.

Veda, in center city, proclaims itself the best Indian restaurant in town. While I haven’t personally tried many Indian restaurants, I can see how Veda would be hard to beat. The restaurant offers authentic Indian cuisine with a modern twist. The fine dining atmosphere is trendy and eclectic, making it an excellent spot for brunch with the girls or a dinner date night.

The food is prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients and can be easily paired with one of their many hand-crafted cocktails or wines.

The name Veda comes from ancient Hindu scriptures, containing hymns, philosophy, and guidance on ritual for the priests of the Vedic religion. Rishis developed the Vedic hymns with inspired creativity. Like the hymns, Veda’s menu is filled with creativity.

We visited Veda for weekend brunch, where they have a bottomless mimosa deal and plenty of food options. Most menu items are served family style, so I recommend sharing a few plates to get a good sample of everything. The staff was very knowledgeable about each dish, its ingredients, spice levels, and pairing options, which is ideal for guests like me, who aren’t as familiar with Indian food.

We started with the Crispy Spinach Chaat, a traditional Indian street food where spinach leaves are battered in spiced chickpea flour and deep fried till golden 😋. Veda’s spin is served in a large salad bowl with chopped tomatoes and shallots and mixed with a sweet yogurt sauce and chutney (a sauce made of tamarind and dates).

Next was Chicken Kathi Rolls — another street food: skewer-roasted meat/vegetables wrapped in a whole-wheat flatbread. At Veda, flavorfully-seasoned chicken is wrapped in house-made paratha, which are like soft tortillas, fresh and charred. Accompanied by a vibrant salad and the tart-sweet zing of chutney, it was so delicious.

A “thali” is a popular North Indian composed dish: small bowls of veggies, proteins, sauces, etc. that diners mix and match themselves. Veda’s Chicken Thali,  came on a large platter balancing bowls of chicken makhani (aka “butter chicken“🤤), basmati rice, raita, pindi chana (gingery, garlicy chickpeas), and freshly baked garlic naan. There are lots of other options we could’ve chosen, but we went with the server’s recommendations, which did not disappoint!

As always, we needed a sweet treat to finish up our meal. Our server recommended the Gulab Jamun with ice cream, which was like tiny cakey donuts with warm rose-flavored syrup and vanilla ice cream. FUN FACT: the sweet treats are a top party food in India, though their name is Persian for “flower-water plums“.

Other dessert options at Veda included kulfi (a lush Indian ice cream that isn’t whipped) and royal Indian rice pudding aka “kheer“, which I will try during my next visit. TRUE STORY: rice pudding was invented in India!

The most pleasant surprise of my meal was realizing how much I enjoy Indian food. The warm welcome and friendly staff were icing on the flourless chocolate torte slice (another item on the dessert menu!) I can’t recommend this place enough for brunch, lunch, dinner, and drinks. And bonus: Veda’s only a couple of blocks from Rittenhouse Square, where you can get a head start walking off some of these calories for next time.

Veda
Modern Indian bistro & lounge.
1920 Chestnut St
267-519-2001
vedaphilly.com

COMMENTS WELCOME! Have you been to Veda, or tried another Indian restaurant in the city that might compare? What do you like to order? Please chime in below, or catch up with me on Instagram @gingersliketoeat. If you enjoyed this feature, please check out last month’s column on the one of the city’s oldest fine Italian eateries.  🤵🍝💚🤍❤️

About Eleni Finkelstein 23 Articles
Eleni Finkelstein (aka @gingersliketoeat on Instagram) is a South Jersey and Philadelphia-based food blogger and journalist. She loves traveling, trying new foods, and cheering on Philly sports teams. You can check out her book, "Eat Like a Local: South Jersey" on Amazon.

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