Chana Masala at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras


Tikki Masala appears on many theme park resort restaurant menus. A Tikka masala consists of small pieces of meat and vegetables into a spicy dish. Usually, a spicy marinade or sauce provides much of the flavor for this masala. In contrast, chana masala removes the meat and replaces it with chickpeas. The chickpeas change the name of dish to chana masala creating a vegan dish.

The plant-based food tent, in Springfield USA area, at Universal Orlando Mardi Gras offers a chana masala this year. As I have written in several places, I appreciate Universal Orlando increasing their vegan options. However, if you read the Vegetable Vindaloo review article, I think you know where this might be going. Now, the Universal version of “Chana Masala” was served in a bowl. The main ingredients were basmati rice, spiced chickpea curry, naan bread and a type of tomato/onion salad.

First, though I understand Universal has toned them down some now, the onion flavor in this item (and a few others) reached overpowering levels. In my experience, I needed something coated in sugar to clean my palate after this masala. In other words, you might want to like onions for this dish.

Second, the masala lacks any consistent spice. Once again, I hear the preparation has been adjusted slightly now but this review is based on many people trying this dish over the first 7 days of Mardi Gras. This name of this dish implies there will be spice. In my bowl, the only thing resembling spice were the onions. Some guests described this dish possessing a generic flavor. Whereas others enjoyed the scaled back flavor.

Third, in contrast to the Vindaloo serving, the rice tasted poorly prepared in my masala. After checking with a few other reliable sources, I found this was a common experience with this masala bowl.

On the positive note, the naan bread once again tasted good. The entire dish tasted better when including nana bread. The presentation of this menu item rates high. Once again, in terms of vegan dining, this concept exceeds normal theme park expectations. Yet, the execution fails to live up to the $9.99 price point.

Like I wrote earlier, some guests appreciated the flavor of this masala. However, I would rate this as the weakest of seven vegan food options offered in the park for Mardi Gras.

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