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Sāmbār – Indian Yumminess in Culver City

© hannah kozak

Sāmbār chandalier

I like Indian food but after having dinner at Sāmbār Restaurant – the new upscale Indian restaurant in downtown Culver City, I can officially say that I love Indian food.

First of all, the location is in the pedestrian walking district of Culver Blvd, just two doors away from Akasha’s first restaurant aptly named Akasha. Sāmbār is the combined creation of the design building firm of Ruth Black, who specializes in ruins to renovation and acclaimed chef, Akasha, who has a whole new take on Indian cuisine. Akasha spent time in an ashram and traveling through India.

India is one of my favorite countries in the world. It’s not like traveling to another country, it’s like traveling to another world. It’s the seat of spirituality, a place where you can sip a cup of chai tea on a street corner and feel fine about just being here now. Between the intense wet heat that never lets up and the smell of India; the scent of Nag Champra incense, a combination of temples, mosques, fresh flowers, decay of the past, saffron, cows, cats, I was intoxicated. This smell still beckons me, even years later, begging me to return for another hit of life. Eating Akasha’s food on my birthday brought me back to that place in my soul, where India is part of me.

Speaking of another part of me, for all you Michael Jackson fans, you already know Akasha was Michael Jackson’s personal and concert (Victory, Bad and History tours) chef. Michael said the only restaurant he would drive to back in the 80’s was Akasha’s Golden Temple, the once popular vegetarian restaurant.

Upon entering there is an eye catching chandelier of blue, green, red, purple, yellow that Black designed and created. If you like details, like I do, have a look at her blog where she explains her design on the chandelier.

Not only is the food a feast for the senses, the space is too. Call me fussy if you like, but when I go out to eat, I love to feel inspired by not only the food but the space must stir as well. The combination of Black and Akasha achieves this. Ruth had the tables hand made while the leather was achieved by an expert in fabrics and textiles, at Holland & Sherry. Black choose cressula, a deep, sautéed green color plant that is drought tolerant, in planters to line the outdoor deck seating area.

Here’s the wooden ceiling:

© hannah kozak

Sāmbār ceiling

It gets better. Here is the art project of stardust white wooden sticks on the wall next to the bar.

© hannah kozak

Sāmbār art project

Now for the food. We started with this cheese plate:

© hannah kozak

Sāmbār cheese plate

Here are samosas, Sambar snack mix, Sev Puri Chat, Toor Daal Fritters, and a Sacred Cow drink.

© hannah kozak

Sāmbār samosas, snack mix

In the back is a Cheese Thai (Indian Cheese plate), with Papadoms and Turmeric Naan, Lemon Rice, Dal, Tandoori Roasted Vegetables with yogurt, Tandoori British half Raj chicken.

© hannah kozak

Back: Cheese Thai (Indian Cheese plate), with Papadoms and Turmeric Naan, Lemon Rice, Dal, Tandoori Roasted Vegetables with yogurt, Tandoori British half Raj chicken.

Tandoori Roasted Vegetables with Yogurt:

© hannah kozak

Back: Cheese Thai (Indian Cheese plate), with Papadoms and Turmeric Naan, Lemon Rice, Dal, Tandoori Roasted Vegetables with yogurt, Tandoori British half Raj chicken.

 © hannah kozak

Sāmbār Tandoori Roasted Vegetables with Yogurt:

Here’s the Tandoori pistachio lamb kabob with Makki ki roti (gluten free).

© hannah kozak

Tandoori pistachio lamb kabob with Makki ki roti (gluten free)

Tandoori British Raj chicken:

© hannah kozak

Tandoori British Raj chicken

A special banana dessert that three lifelong friends shared:

© hannah kozak

Friends for life

© hannah kozak

Banana dessert

I’m looking forward to returning to try the lamb burger and try some of the drinks made by Clare Ward a mixologist who came on board from Akasha’s first restaurant. Some of her drinks include house-made bitters with turmeric and spiking Pimms cocktails with fresh curry leaves.

Ruth Black is a long time Kundalini yogi whose love for the practice brings a higher consciousness that permeates every area of her life. Here is her hand drawn design in the restrooms. Just like Michael Jackson, Ruth understands the mantra of the Age of Aquarius that “You’re Just Another Part of Me.” Here we see Ruth’s handwriting, inspired by her mother, a calligraphy artist, who was in of all places, India at the time Ruth was building Sāmbār.

© hannah kozak

Ruth Black art work

Last but not least, the hand painted logo at the entrance wall designed by Ruth’s talented mother, artist Barbara Graham.

 © hannah kozak

Sāmbār entrance

“India was open. India was honest. And I liked that from the first day. My instinct wasn’t to criticize. My instinct, in the city I was learning to love, was to observe, and become involved, and enjoy.” Gregory David Roberts – Shantaram



JBN- hannah-kozak_self-portrait 1Hannah has been a passionate professional photographer for four decades. A graduate of Cal State University she also holds a Master (MA) in Psychology from the University of Santa Monica. She spent many years taking still images of stunts for the movie industry in Hollywood, which also took her to many parts of the globe. Today Hannah has her own photography/writing blog called She feels driven these days to create psychological and autobiographical photographs, seeking to express the inner emotions of her subjects, as well as her own.



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