Lunch for One: Thali Plates at Hampton Chutney Co.

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[Photos: Kathy YL Chan]

Hampton Chutney Co. is best known for their dosas—many of them not quite traditional, but solid nonetheless. Looking over the menu at their Soho location on Prince Street, dosas take up about 75% of the menu board; sandwiches, the other 25%. But pass the cookie jars and focus your attention on the small chalkboard—right beneath the soup specials is a menu item listed as the Thali Special.

That is what you ought to get at Hampton Chutney Co. The Thali Special, again nontraditional, but mighty delicious, is $9.95, a excellent deal for the sheer quantity of food presented. The focus of the meal is the "Indian Vegetable of the Day," which happened to be a mix of vegetables on my visit. Cauliflower, asparagus, corn, carrots, and potatoes in a thick, spicy stew touched with curry spice, and poured over a plate of hot basmati rice. For a few dollars more, those with meat cravings can add chicken to the dish. The plate includes a side of yogurt and your pick of chutney (Cilantro, Curry, Mango, Tomato, or Peanut), along with fresh naan bread.

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But that's not all! Included with the Thali Special is soup, and they have specials that change daily, including an expected lentil soup, and a fiery red pepper that I could barely drink without downing an entire lassi or two (see below). However, in this weather, you are best advised to keep an eye out for the chilled mango gazpacho.

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You can pass on the sandwiches, the other non-dosa option on the menu—fine, but playing second fiddle to everything else Hampton Chutney Co. offers. Chicken salad, tuna (pictured above), avocado with mozzarella, all the basics and nothing particularly memorable.

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But don't miss out on the drinks here—I often go out of my way for a cup of Iced Cardamom Coffee in the mornings. The Orange Ginger Iced Tea is an excellent option as well, light and simultaneously spicy with a splash of citrus. The Lassis ($4.95) come in mango and strawberry, and though mango may be more "traditional," it's the strawberry, thick and tangy with fresh strawberries, that hit the spot.

Hampton Chutney Co.

68 Prince Street, New York NY 10012 (map) 212-226-9996
hamptonchutney.com