Vegetarian (and Vegan) Delights of NYC: Pesarattu Upma at Sapthagiri in Jersey City

Pesarattu upma is one of the vegetarian dishes hitherto-unseen in the region, making Sapthagiri well worth the visit. Instead of potatoes, the interior holds a secret surprise.

A new restaurant featuring the vegetarian cuisines of north and south India has materialized in Jersey City's Little India.

Not on Newark Avenue, but located on a side street, Sapthagiri offers nearly the full range of vegetarian Indian cuisines, including such southern specialties as masala dosa in its umpteen variations, curd rice, and gutti vankaya, the latter an unusual stew of baby eggplants in a mellow sauce incorporating pureed tomatoes and peanuts.

From the northern roster come Mughal vegetable curries like alu gobi and mattar paneer. There are a plethora of breads, too, the most amazing of which is bhatura, which is like a poori times ten.

The space is perhaps too well-lit, but also has an elegance denied many of the eating establishments that line Newark Avenue.

While the northern and southern menus have become familiar to us in the last decade or so, variations keep popping up to hold our avid interest. At Sapthagiri, one of the principal additions to the vegetarian canon is pesarattu upma ($6.99), with a wrapper much like a dosa, except it's made out of ground mung beans insteal of ground rice and urad dal. I assume the fermentation process is similar. The difference lies in a darker and grassier taste in the pesarattu, which hails originally from Andhra Pradesh on the southeast coast of India.

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