To my delight, Sharonville has a wealth of Indian eateries. The corridor of Reading and Lebanon Roads alone houses a half-dozen; some strictly vegetarian, and others offering delights for the carnivorous among us. With my intrepid husband in tow, I made my way there recently to sample Sankalp Indian Restaurant.
Sankalp started out as a vegetarian chain restaurant from India. They’ve only recently begun to offer chicken, lamb and shrimp dishes, and the owners have plans to sever the chain connection and change the restaurant’s name — so make a note of the address! We met vegetarian friends for dinner, so we decided to stick with the non-meat options for this visit.
We walked in to a nearly empty dining room and were seated immediately by a very attentive waiter who suggested I try the fresh lime soda ($2.99), which comes either salted or sweet and with water or soda. I chose sweet, and boy was it ever sweet. Once I got past the tooth-shattering sugariness, I quite liked the bite of the lime. Sankalp does not serve alcohol but does have several other interesting beverage choices, including teas and lassi (yogurt drinks).
I tried a traditional Indian street food called Papri Chaat (alternatively called papadi chaat and papdi chaat, among others) for the first time several months ago and was promptly smitten. Ever since that first taste, it has been my mission to sample all the iterations of Papri Chaat in the city, so we started our meal with Sankalp’s version ($4.99). This one featured papdi (lentil crackers) topped with chickpeas and potatoes and a generous serving of yogurt and two different chutneys: tamarind and cilantro, served chilled.
I loved this version, but I think I would have preferred more papdi and maybe a little less yogurt. Still, it was delicious and refreshing. We also ordered assorted pakora (Indian appetizers like samosa, fried paneer and vegetable fritters) and were surprised to get chutneys we had never before seen along with chutneys that were familiar. Among the familiar: cilantro, tamarind and red chili. Among the new: coconut and asafetida. The pakora were wonderful and plentiful and featured something I hadn’t experienced: fried paneer (Indian cheese) with a layer of cilantro. It was delightful.
I tend to get myself into a rut at Indian restaurants. The menus all look so enticing that after a lot of dithering, I end up ordering one of the same two things every single time — Chicken Tikka Masala or Paneer Makhani. I resolved this time to try new things at Sankalp, and after much discussion, we settled on three entrées: Mysore Chatpata Masala Dosa ($8.49), Panchavarna Uthappam ($8.49), and Malai Kofta ($10.99), with an order of Garlic Naan ($2.99) to round us out. The garlic naan was wonderful, full of garlic and baked just right. The Panchavarna Uthappam consisted of a variety of five rice pancakes: onion, tomato, chili, cheese and potato masala. We all agreed that the best of the five was the potato, followed by the onion.
The Malai Kofta (paneer and vegetable croquettes in a creamy tomato sauce) was fantastic. At Sankalp you can customize your spice level (mild, medium, spicy, extra spicy) and medium was just right for our particular tastes. The croquettes were cooked perfectly, not at all greasy, and had plenty of paneer. The tomato sauce was creamy and complex, spicy but with a hint of sweetness.
The star of the evening, however, was the Dosa. Dosa are thin rice crepes stuffed with everything from potatoes to paneer. Ours was stuffed with chickpeas and potatoes, spiced with chutney and coriander. We couldn’t get enough of the massive crepe. In spite of everything we ordered, there was none of the Dosa left at the end of the night. The filling was spicy and redolent of coriander and tamarind, and the chickpeas were perfectly cooked. I would make a trip to Sharonville specifically for Sankalp’s Dosa.
Sankalp’s variety of Indian street food is impressive, as is the variety of Dosa ($6.99-$9.99) and Biryani ($2.99-$10.99). Sankalp also offers several other Asian dishes like hot and sour soup ($3.99), fried rice ($7.99) and noodles ($8.99). The dessert menu is enticing, but we were too stuffed to sample any of it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sankalp and am glad I made the decision to branch out with my food choices. I can only hope that Sankalp’s menu won’t change when the owners change the name.
Go: 11963 Lebanon Road, Sharonville
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday–Sunday
Red Meat Alternatives: Many
Accessibility: Fully accessible