Although Malabar refers to a region of India along its western coast bordering the Arabian Sea, Santa Cruz's Malabar Restaurant infuses ingredients from around the world into its vegetarian menu. Japanese pumpkins, Anaheim chilies, Greek cheese, Malaysian peanut sauce and Russian Borscht are just some of the flavors that join curries and samosas in its rich list of small plates, soups, salads, pastas and entrées.
We began the meal with exotic beverages. Persian Nights ($4.25) was a sweet, lavender-colored blend of banana, pomegranate and almond milk scented with rosewater. Supertonic ($4.50), a refreshing fusion of ginseng, ginger and allspice, was topped with chewy dried Himalayan goji berries.
Baked Sonoma Goat Cheese Salad ($7.75) with beautiful baby lettuces was lightly dressed with lemon vinaigrette and topped with a soft puff of white cheese. We enjoyed it with an order of Pan ($4), the airy, soft flatbread, which was served with clarified butter ghee, generously laden with minced fresh garlic.