When I was in college, I was a vegetarian – sort of. On the weekdays, I stuck to a strict vegan diet. Then Friday night came, and the whole vegan thing flew out the window. After a full night of partying and carrying on like college students do, I caved into my cravings for protein, and off I went to get a double cheeseburger from Jack-in-the-Box or a greasy patty melt from Denny’s. Afterward, I felt guilty as sin and promised myself that I wouldn’t eat meat again. Well, that didn’t work.
I like the idea of being a vegetarian. The health aspects are, without doubt, beneficial, but I realized long ago that I also like meat. So, I have adapted a “moderation” approach to eating: Occasionally I will eat meat (mostly chicken); occasionally, I will eat purely vegan meals. For me, this works. It is my way of balance.
Nimai’s Bliss Kitchen is also about balance, but it’s strictly a vegetarian restaurant – Newburgh’s first. Its concept is based on Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu way of healing (Ayu=life, Veda=knowledge). As explained to me by Dr. Ashik Raval, one of the owners of Bliss Kitchen, the Ayurvedic diet is – in very, very simplistic terms – based on three principles called Doshas. They are Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth). When these elements are out of balance in your body, usually because of diet, that is when disease prevails. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that most illnesses or diseases can be corrected by what you eat. It is about finding the balance within.
Bliss Kitchen started out as a place to “set an example” for the doctor’s patients and family for how to eat. The food that is served is fresh (no frozen or “old” food) and is seasonal. The ingredients used are as local as they can get, except for some of the spices. For now, Bliss Kitchen has a buffet with a variety of vegetarian dishes. The meals are served with house-made breads: Naan, Chappati, or Bhaturas (my favorite). There is a limited menu to choose from instead of the buffet. In the middle of December, Bliss Kitchen will have a grand opening and start serving from a regular expanded menu. There will be a juice bar and an area for take-out orders. This past week, pizza was added to the menu. The meals are also reasonably priced.
The dishes are filled with aromatic East Indian spices that range from the familiar to the not-sure-what-it-is. Cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, allspice, garam masala and cinnamon are just a few of the spices used. Some of the dishes have a little “kick,” and the spicy ones are my favorites, but for the most part, the dishes are mild but enhanced with exotic wonderful flavors. All are delicious and filling and are also colorful in a way that western cuisine tends not to be. A perfect example of this is the veggie burger above.
Some folks stay away from vegetarian food because they think it is uninteresting, bland or lacking in the protein needed for a balanced diet. Bliss Kitchen counters these ideas. There is something for everyone and they are adding to the menu daily taking into consideration the desires of their customers. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the food. Good food is good food.
Nimai’s Bliss Kitchen
94 South Robinson Avenue
Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00am-9:00pm
FYI: On December 24th, Bliss Kitchen is having an open house where they will be serving free food to the community. Check out their website for details.