Within easy reach of New York, the only other venue specializing in food from that South Indian state may be Kerala Kitchen, in Floral Park. On my first visit that restaurant was open more in spirit than in actuality (a nearby discovery brightened the day), and on my second, I had just filled my plate several times over at Five Star's weekend buffet. (I still hope to pay Kerala Kitchen more than a courtesy call.)
Above, behind the donut-shaped dal vada on my opening Five Star plateload, coconutty chicken stew rests in a rice-flour palappam. These bowl-shaped rice-flour pancakes (literally pressed into action) are griddled in the dining room, as needed, in a shallow concave pan that lets batter slide toward the bottom, so the lip of the palappam is lacy and the base, thicker and spongier. To the right are a yellow thoran, thin-sliced cabbage baked with carrot and coconut, and a pale green avial, a mixed-vegetable curry cooked in coconut oil. Also shown, below: a closeup of the thoran; kappa, or boiled spiced yuca; a breadcrumb-covered tuna-and potato cutlet; and puli, better known as tamarind (in this instance, perhaps immature), a flavoring from the (unphotogenic) mango fish curry.
Five Star Indian Cuisine
247 Jericho Turnpike (North 2nd St.-Hillside Blvd.), New Hyde Park, New York