Another type of Indian street food that is a specialty at Saffron Valley is the dosa, a huge lentil and rice flour crepe stuffed with your choice of fillings. Some of the dosas are made with wheat flour. The crepes are thin and light, with a crisp outer surface, and are wrapped around different combinations of vegetables, paneer (a farm-style cheese), or chicken. All the dosas are served with lentil soup for dipping, and mint and tamarind chutney. My favorite dosa is the masala (potato-green pea curry), and my least favorite is the chicken tikka. In the latter case I didn't think the flavor of the chicken complemented the flavor of the crepe.
Saffron Valley's curries, staples of every Indian restaurant menu, are beautifully flavored, with an expert use of spices. My favorite of Saffron Valley's curries is the chicken saag, definitely worth a try if you like spinach. The restaurant's owner, Lavanya Mahate, runs a company called India Spice Pantry, selling spice blends and other specialty ingredients. She also teaches cooking classes and publishes a recipe blog for Indian home cooking.
Other highlights of Saffron Valley's extensive menu include chicken, lamb or shrimp kabobs baked in a clay oven, pizzas with an Indian flair, stuffed flatbreads, Indo-Chinese stir fries, biriyanis (layered rice, meat and vegetables), and Indian wraps. One of my favorite items is the Rogan Josh wrap - lamb tikka on a bed of spinach, onions and peppers rolled in a flat bread. Lamb Rogan Josh is something I make at home to serve over rice, but it's delightful as a wrap. If you have a sweet tooth, Saffron Valley offers sweet lassis (like a yogurt smoothie), frappes, shakes and steamers, as well as chocolate samosas, rice pudding and other desserts.
The atmosphere at Saffron Valley is modern and casual, and guests are seated in a long, narrow space that is frequently crowded. At times diners order at the counter, but on weekend nights there is table service, so the setup is a little confusing. There is frequently loud dance music, and the service can be somewhat disorganized. It's a nice place for a casual meal, but in general the food is better than the atmosphere.
Prices at Saffron Valley are a little high for fast-casual, but this is not assembly-line food. On a recent visit, my friends and I paid $50 for dinner for three, including a tip for table service, and we ordered appetizers and entrees but no drinks. Saffron Valley offers a popular lunch buffet from 11-3. They also offer takeout and catering.
Saffron Valley Indian Street Foods
1098 W. South Jordan Parkway
Update: In, 2013, Saffron Valley opened a second location, Saffron Valley East India Café, at 26 E. Street in Salt Lake City.