We stumbled upon the weekend buffet at newly 100% vegan Arya Bhavan on Devon and determined to make it our mission to find out why they were so consistently a cut above all other buffets on Chicago’s Devon Avenue.
One bite of new recipes 2000+ and 2001+ encapsulated what their secret of success was.
These were vegan versions of mango and avocado ice cream, with aromas of candy and confections and a creaminess that you think came from some cow’s udder somewhere—but think again! It was yet another culinary invention that Kirti, chief chef of Arya Bhavan, had labored on for weeks to ensure that what she brought to her customers’ palates was like nothing they have had before and in no way short of perfection.
While other restaurateurs on Devon and elsewhere faced the recession downturn by cutting corners Kirti instead looked to ways to make her food healthier and tastier. An idea strikes her in the middle of the night and she is soon “googling” ingredients and others’ recipes to find how to take her inspirations to fruition or to learn more about things like celiac disease and how to accommodate the varying health needs of her clientele. Or she is reading up on nutritional research and especially all things vegan, newly important since Arya Bhavan’s final leap this month from vegetarian to 100% vegan.
Even if you favor meat dishes you will surely be cheating yourself if you do not avail yourself of the weekend buffet or stop by some weekday for vegan delights of all kinds. Many of the dishes may look familiar if you commonly frequent Devon haunts, but they do not taste the same. Kirti is willing to share her secrets but seems unable to do so because, as every bite attests, it is the balancing of spices and the timing of the cooking that gives it its flavorful distinctions.
The deliciousness is in the details. At Arya Bhavan you will not find just one type of samosa, for example. Kirti has introduced four types to the menu: one is gluten-free; another is made from unbleached flour; whole wheat variety; and samosas that are baked without oil.
What looks like a cauliflower dish is a cauliflower dish but somehow the green chilies and turmeric are added just so to make you savor more. Same with the cabbage dishes, which Kirti will tell you are a simple stir-fry but the subtle flavors tell you otherwise. For Baingan Bharta DO expect creaminess mixed in with the smokiness of the eggplant but know that it is appropriately proportioned peas that help give the creaminess and that the vegan standard is not violated.
Kirti explains, “Our name, Arya Bhavan, means ‘Welcome to Our Home’, and I endeavor to create the atmosphere of hospitality that was familiar to me in my family’s large farmstead home in Gujarat. I love people and I consider my customers my family.
“My own mother had a heart attack and died and it made me very careful about my family and also my restaurant family. I believe if one starts with a positive attitude and is not afraid of experimenting in the kitchen you can achieve a great deal. I am very conscious of nutrition and that is also why our new menu gives nutrition tips. On Monday evenings we have a raw food night and last week I had 22 people coming to taste our new creations. The week before I had 32. Word is spreading. People want tasty food and they want healthy food. When you come to my restaurant I treat you as though you had joined my family’s farm table back home.”
To give you a picture of how Arya Bhavan marries nutrition focus with taste here is a sampling from their menu—
“- Organic brown rice: Seasoned with Cumin, Clove, Bay Leaves, Turmeric, Cinnamon and Sea Salt. Garnished with Raisins. Great source of fiber!
- Saffron rice: Basmati Rice, seasoned with Clove, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon and Sea Salt. Saffron contains many cancer-fighting elements.
- Uppma: Wheat Farina (great source of Vitamin B-12) stir-fried with Mustard Seeds, Cumin, Onion, Tomato, Clove, Curry Leaves, Cinnamon and Lemon Juice. Garnished with Cashews and Cilantro, served with Sambar and Chutney.
- Dal Bunzara: Fresh Moong Lentils, sautéed in Olive Oil with Cumin, Fresh Green Tomato and Onion. A popular Mom’s homemade Indian dish. Great source of protein and antioxidants.
- Organic Tofu Tikka Masala: Sauteed Smoked Vegan Cheese, Bell Pepper and Diced Onion, topped with stir-fried Organic Tofu. Bell Pepper is a good source of vitamin C and B6, and good for your hair and skin.
In addition, all food is prepared with:
- No Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
- No Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- No Artificial Flavors
- No Canned Food
- Low Sodium (Pure Himalayan salt)
- No Saturated Fat
- Purified Water
- Assorted Organic Fruits & Vegetables
- Organic Brown Rice
- No Refined Sugar
- Unbleached and Organic Flour”
If you seek good food Arya Bhavan is a find. If you need gluten-free or desire to pursue a vegan diet Arya Bhavan is your new destination restaurant of choice.
Other facts you should know about Arya Bhavan:
- Every month Arya Bhavan has a calendar of 2-3 events including: live music, juicing, health workshops, yoga/healing practices and soon even cooking classes
-Children under 9 eat at the buffets for half-price
-Weekdays there is a mini-thali for only $4.99
-Weekend Buffet is Friday night, and all day Saturday and Sunday
-Raw Food Buffet only on Monday night—including raw desserts!
-Weight-loss meal plans and catering available
-Home delivery boundaries--
North: Howard Street
West: Cicero Avenue
South: Armitage Avenue
East: Lake Michigan
2508 West Devon
Chicago, IL 60659
773 274 5800
www.aryabhavan.com (soon to have a blog about healthy eating including recipes!)
Monday: 6:30 – 9:30 PM Raw buffet (*open for luncheon on holidays)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday: 12:00 – 9:00 PM
Friday and Saturday: 12:00 – 9:30 PM