The Hare Krishna-style cuisine isn’t strictly prasadam, Ayurvedic or all Indian, but it does satisfy the soul with everything made in-house and chosen with care.
Despite serving dosas, pakoras and thali, Kristian, owner of Friedrichshain vegan joint Goura Pakora, has never been to India. He’s taken Ayurvedic cooking classes, and he became interested in Hare Krishna-style prasadam cuisine (no garlic, no onions, all vegetarian) thanks to regular communal meals at a friend’s house 10 years ago.
Yet the food at Goura Pakora isn’t strictly prasadam, strictly Ayurvedic or even strictly Indian: falafel, marinated tofu wraps and smoothies are all on the menu. “I just want to cook things that make me happy,” says Kristian.
Ordered as a starter, the namesake pakoras (fried vegetables coated in a spice-infused batter, €3.30) arrive in a seemingly bottomless bowl and are perfectly crispy but not greasy. They could be a little spicier, but this is quickly remedied by a dip in Kristian’s homemade chutney or, better yet, chilli sauce: a simple mix of red chillies, soy sauce and sugar that is so much more than the sum of its ingredients.
Dosas, south Indian crepes made with a fermented rice and lentil flour batter, come plain or with a sweet or savoury filling – the chilli-potato-spinach combination (€5.30), served with a thick, fluffy coconut dip, stands out. But found on most tables is the Thali Teller (€6.60-13.30): a giant tray replete with rice and millet, pakoras with mango chutney, falafels, potato curry, cucumber raita, a fresh salad with lettuce, tomato, shredded red cabbage, mung beans and seeds, and a soup!
You even get dessert: a sweet pear chutney and a chewy date or hazelnut nougat square. With the exception of the bread for the wraps, everything at Goura Pakora is made there, and all the ingredients are chosen with care; even the salt is either Himalayan or pure sea salt.
The results are noticeably tastier than Berlin’s average steam-table Indian fare, right down to the crunchy, paper-thin homemade pappadam balanced delicately on top of each thali plate. It might take a while for the kitchen to get the engine running and you might have to be a bit patient (on a recent visit, our meal took over an hour to arrive), but it’s worth the wait. You’ll leave full but not stuffed – in fact, feeling perfectly wholesome!
Goura Pakora, Krossener Str. 16, Friedrichshain, U-Bhf Samariterstr., Tue-Sat 12- 23, Sun 12-22:30
Originally published in issue #122, December 2013.