Naan, Dosas and Beyond at Amma’s South Indian Cuisine

At this Voorhees restaurant, an attractive current of bold flavors and fiery heat runs through each dish.

Ghee roast dosa. Photo by Shelby Vittek

When we sat down to a late dinner on a Thursday night at Amma’s Indian Cuisine in Voorhees, we weren’t expecting to find the strip mall restaurant packed at 8:30 pm. But crowds still lingered over the many dishes at their tables, and the restaurant boomed with lively chatter—a sign of a good meal ahead.

Opened in 2016 by Chennai native Sathish Varadhan and his friend and co-chef Bala Krishnan, Amma’s South Indian Cuisine is a tribute to mothers. The restaurant was inspired by the South Indian cooking they each grew up eating. They even named the restaurant Amma, the Tamil word for “mother.” A second location in Philadelphia’s Center City opened earlier this year.

You don’t want to dine at Amma’s without ordering a dosa, of which there are many. We started with the ghee roast dosa, a thin, crisp, buttery crepe that you use to scoop up the mashed potatoes spiced with turmeric and masala. The paneer masala dosa and mysore masala dosa are also popular.

Other appetizers include bondas (fried dumplings) and other South Indian street food. We tried the mysore bonda, a fluffy fried round made with rice, lentils, fresh coconut and other spices that’s served alongside housemade chutneys. The Cauliflower “65”, a dish created in Chennai in 1965 that was rumored to contain 65 spices, was crispy and aromatic with turmeric, coriander and cumin, and is also available with chicken. And we devoured the chicken pepper varuval, a deceptively simple pepper chicken fry enriched with fresh herbs like crushed black pepper and curry leaves, and stewed in tomatoes onions and herbs.

Cauliflower “65”
Mysore bonda
Chicken pepper varuval

Above left: lamb chettinad. Below right: ennai (baby eggplant) kathrikai kuzhambu.

Most entrees are priced between $10-$15, with the most expensive one topping out at $16.95. The portions are generous, the flavors substantial. There’s a current of bold flavors and fiery heat—the smoky and rich kind—than runs through the food at Amma’s, especially in dishes like the lamb chettinad, a tender stew rich with 22 different herbs and spices, including star anise, turmeric and bay. For the ennai (baby eggplant) kathrikai kuzhambu, whole baby eggplants are split and bloom in a tangy tomato and tamarind sauce. There’s also several biryani options (vegetables, chicken, goat or lamb) and idli, steamed rice cakes made with a batter of fermented black lentil and rice.

And even with that, we barely touched all that Amma’s has to offer. The menu is comprehensive, yet well organized and approachable. I can’t wait to return to what I believe to be one of South Jersey’s best Indian restaurants.

Amma’s South Indian Restaurant, 700 Eagle Plaza #36, Voorhees; 856-784-1100. Open for lunch and dinner, daily.

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