Back to Center City for a Thali Lunch at Veda

I didn’t acquire a taste for Indian food until in my late 30s. It wasn’t on my radar while growing up in the Philly suburbs. There may have been an Indian restaurant or two in Center City back in those days, but my family generally opted for Chinatown when eating downtown. 

When I started working at the main – Center City – office of the newspaper that employed me for 26 years, the people in my department regularly ordered delivery from an inexpensive, but good dive of an Indian restaurant called Minar Palace. In fact, a number of the departments in the newsroom were frequent customers of this place. Their delivery man seemed to show up at our office nearly every day.

Most of my early Indian food came from the late Minar Palace in Center City, Philadelphia.

Eventually, I was enticed enough by the aromas emanating from Minar’s food as it was wolfed down by my colleagues to try it. The rest is, as they say, history. Minar Palace closed at some point, then reopened in nicer digs a few blocks east of the old spot. That location lasted a few years before also going out of business. But I liked Indian food enough after those early experiences to seek it out from other restaurants up through the present. 

To that end, I met Kamala and Helene – a couple friends and former colleagues who have been featured in two past restaurant posts – for lunch today in Center City at Veda, which bills itself as a modern Indian bistro. There isn’t much old-school about this place. It’s got a fancy entrance and arguably a fancier interior.

Vada is only a few blocks away from the old Minar Palace location.

I don’t believe Veda has been around very long. If it opened prior to the arrival of Covid, it couldn’t have been by very long. 

Their lunch menu is somewhat limited compared to what’s offered at dinner, but it had the interesting feature of being a sort of prix-fixe in the form of thali platters, which are traditionally a round dish with an array of South Asian foods. The number of dishes that came with this thali was smaller than typical, but the presentation and quality more than made up for that.

I opted for Shrimp Makhani as my main course.

There were also a few appetizers available and Helene opted for a pair of those rather than going the thali route.

She went with the colorful Spring Salad and a beautiful cauliflower dish called Lassoni Gobi.

Kamala asked our server how many samosas come in an order. While there are normally two, he kindly offered to bring us three, so we could each have one. They were vegetarian and very good.

Vegetable Samosas

The first thali to arrive at the table was Kam’s. It included Chicken Vindaloo, Pindi Channa Masala, Navrattan Korma, Saffron Basmati Rice, and Kheer (Indian rice pudding), and was presented in spectacular style.

Kamala’s thali

Mine followed. It was identical to Kamala’s, except for the presence of Shrimp Makhani instead of Chicken Vindaloo. We were also presented with a basket of fantastic Garlic Naan to share.

Our garlic naan was warm and tasty.
From Right to Left: Saffron Basmati Rice, Navrattan Korma, Shrimp Makhani, Channa Masala, and Kheer.

Everything tasted wonderful, and it was enough food to satisfy my hunger without leaving me feeling stuffed. 

There has actually been a decent Indian food scene in Philadelphia for a while now. Veda is a little less traditional than many of the others in some ways, but less so when it comes to their food. That suits me fine. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them, at least for a thali lunch. 

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

3 thoughts on “Back to Center City for a Thali Lunch at Veda

  1. Very interesting! Everything looks foreign to me; not because the dishes are from somewhere else in the world but because I don’t believe I’ve ever had Indian food. In fact, I’m so clueless that at first I thought you had Thai food for lunch and made a typo in the title…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a couple of Indian restaurants in Evansville, Indiana. I think I went to one over there 30-35 years ago maybe twice. My impression was that the flavors were very similar and were either bland or hot. So I’m glad you’re writing up this Indian restaurant (and maybe more in the future) and taking pictures of the food. It has inspired me to try the Indian restaurants in my area. Maybe my impression will be different this time.

    Liked by 1 person

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