The last time I consistently ate Indian food was my stint living in England in 2004. London had a strip of the best Indian cuisine outside of India and I found myself eating Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan bread once a week in my home of Leicester to get over the British cuisine. Somehow moving back to DC, then coming to LA caused a slip in my Indian foodie radar. Not until recently did I get turned on again to Indian food after experiencing this new spot Sāmbār in Culver City.
Celebrated female chef and owner, Akasha Richmond, the owner of AKASHA (2008) a few doors down from Sāmbār, was once the private traveling chef to Michael Jackson for 14 years. She originally came to LA for yoga and fell in love with cooking where she is well-known in the Los Angeles food community having spent most of her career as a self-taught chef and baker, as well as owning a successful catering business. Barbara Streisand loved her. So will you!
Akasha, who spent time in India, has created a menu that excites Angelenos because it includes a healthier lighter version of Indian food using local foods and sustainable practices, with dishes like Quinoa Pancakes with various sauces like red onion & tomato chutney, hempseed chutney, and sesame gunpowder, Yogurt Roasted Vegetables including oyster mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower & schaner farms red onion, and Kachumber – cucumber, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, mint, cilantro, chaat masala, lemon and cumin.
Akasha’s love and inspiration for Indian cuisine came from traveling the world from Southeast Asia, Bali, Australia, as well as Eastern and Western Europe. She is the author of Hollywood Dish: More than 150 delicious, healthy recipes from Hollywood’s chef to the stars (Avery, 2006) and has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine. Akasha also has acted as a guest editor for Vegetarian Times, and continues to consult on numerous natural food product lines while exploring new methods and practices for living a healthier life through food and cooking.
The space on the thriving Culver Boulevard has outdoor patio seating and a gorgeous modern interior with fancy lighting fixtures and a friendly bar. Sanbar was packed on a Thursday night! I would recommend coming for the Spicy Trade Cocktails and sashaying up to the bar for light bites too. Drinks like East Indian Pimm’s Cup include a muddled Indian herb bouquet with lemon, ginger, seltzer and of course Pimm’s no.1. My cocktail expert friend @tipsydiaries indulged in the Vegetable Wallah with hophead vodka, chili liquor, muddled cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Every cocktail presented is carefully thought out from Punches to Inspired Classics.
What I liked about Sanbar is that I was trying new foods I wouldn’t normally eat, such as to start I noshed on these little messy avocado bites with a new flavor twist on what seemed like crunchy tortilla-like bottoms called Sevpuri Chaat. For $6 the ingredients included some items I have never heard of like teff puris, green mango, avocado, red onion, pomegranate-mint chutney, tamarind, chutney, and sev (crunchy noodles). The punjabi mama greens for $11 made me feel healthy with a creamy blend of mustard greens, spinach & house paneer.
The Mississippi masala chicken wings felt airy and light with dipping options like sāmbār masala, malabar hot sauce, and summer fruit chutney. I couldn’t get enough of the yellow Turmeric Naan, a traditional punjabi flatbread with fresh turmeric & kalonji seeds. After eating with so many vegan friends, I felt guilty eating the lamb, but I tried just a bite from the lamb skewer called Pistachio lamb sirloin kabob ($18) which involves punjabi corn roti, kachumber salad, mango chutney and eggplant raita.
To counterbalance all the flavors, my tastebuds were craving sweet, so the Coffee Ice Cream Pie ($8) with its flourless chocolate crust, cocoa nibs, and coconut chocolate sauce was the perfect ending.
Recently, Sāmbār launched lunch with lunch specials and take-out too. Vegans rejoice! Many vegetarian options can be found, such as the Yogi Thali Plate ($16) with Punjabi mama greens, zucchini kofta with cashew, tomato, and saffron sauce; as well as modern takes on street food favorites such as Kati Rolls like the British Raj Chicken Kati ($12) with yogurt roasted chicken, pomegranate-mint and peach chutney.
Lunch plates like Salads and Burgers ̶ See Canyon Apricot Salad ($12) with little gem lettuce, fresh goat cheese, vindaloo bacon, spiced pistachios, turmeric oil and lime vinaigrette; and Masala Lamb Burger ($15) with preserved tomato chutney and gun powder potatoes will satisfy the hearty appetite. A selection of vibrant non-alcoholic drinks including a refreshing Tamarind Cooler or Lassi of the Day ($5) accent the dishes for a leisurely afternoon nosh in the outdoor patio.
Only a few months old, explore Indian-inspired cuisine California-style at Sāmbār with a focus on seasonal produce, sustainable products, and an ever-changing selection of housemade snacks, salads, appetizers, and entrees right here in one of LA’s thriving neighborhoods, Culver City.
9531 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Call 310-558-8800 or visit Open Table
11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Monday – Friday
5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday;
5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Every Day 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
All photos courtesy of Melissa Curtin and Ali Sarafoglou of TipsyDiaries.