Malav Pandya, his wife Megha Patel, and their daughters Sanvi and Sunehi are the picture of a happy family, and Pandya says he treats his customers like his extended family.
“Growing up, I was in a big family of twelve cooking all day long,” he says of his fond memories of family gatherings.
Hailing from a large, lesser-known town north of Mumbai called Ahmedabad, Pandya says it was there that he learned the basics of farm-to-table cooking.
“In India, we used to grow our own vegetables, cut them, serve them, and eat them,” Pandya says. “Same thing now. I go to farmer’s markets twice a week and get fresh, locally sourced vegetables.”
Their veganized garlic naan is a feathery bread cooked in a traditional tandoori oven and smothered with fresh garlic and chopped cilantro. The samosas are made in the tradition of the Punjab district, and unlike their heavy, dense counterparts, are light with a creamy filling of potatoes, green peas, cilantro, and coriander.
Not to be missed is the baingan bharta, made from char-broiled eggplant that is then mashed and marinated in a rich blend of mughlai spices and slow-cooked to perfection.
The onion-based curry sauce is the basis of much of their vegan options and is made with small pieces of fresh onion as opposed to onion purée. Any combination of vegetables can be added, though the traditional aloo gobi, with cauliflower, potatoes, and green peas, or the channa masala, with chick peas and north Indian spices, are the most popular.
“I can’t stop,” Pandya says, delighted by the river of people that continues to arrive even outside of business hours. “I close and people knock on my door. That’s how it is. The name itself attracts a lot of people, and then once they like it, it’s all about the food and the service.”
A steady stream of customers and an endless string of phone calls lay testament to the success Pandya credits to a combination of both good food and good service.
“It’s more of a passion than anything else,” he says. “We obviously want to grow from here, so that’s sort of the plan.”
While not a vegetarian restaurant, Khana Kh'zana is happy to accommodate vegetarian and vegan requests.
Pandya himself is a lifelong vegetarian, and his family is vegetarian as well.
“Being vegetarian myself and promoting that, I’m pretty into it,” he says. “I’m 38 and I don’t look it, and that’s because of yoga and vegetarian food. Obviously, the more and more chemicals that you put in your body, it’s not going to be good. It’s more about eating fresh and serving fresh.”
The name Khana Kh’zana translates to “treasure of food,” which is exactly what Pandya aims to create. He is quick to say that they do not even own a microwave and that his dishes are spiced with whole, not ground, spices, which are wrapped up in a cloth bag then slow-simmered to coax out the exotic flavors.
Spice levels range from a heatless one to a fiery ten. Since each dish is freshly prepared to order, customers may customize requests to include any available vegetables in place of animal products.
“You can tell in the taste,” Pandya says. “Like, the spinach is not from Publix or Walmart — we get it from the farmer’s markets, make it fresh, and that’s what makes a huge difference.”
(Note from the Vegan Police: Vegan and nonvegan items are prepared in a shared kitchen and, as such, risk cross-contamination with animal products.)
Khana Kh’zana is located at 10345 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. Hours are noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday; 954-227-9344; khanakhzana.com.
Wendy Rhodes is a freelance writer and award-winning author. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @WendyRhodesFL.