I never thought I’d be satisfied eating Indian food at a restaurant in America- until I went to Tamarind Restaurant for lunch.
Above is Bhel, a traditionally Gujarati dish that is usually messy in preparation and on the plate. Mumra (puffed rice i.e. rice krispies), a green garlic chutney, a sweet and sour tamarind chutney, coriander, etc.,- it’s all mixed up in a bowl and served in heaping portions. Bhel is a delicacy and mostly everyone loves it (I can’t eat it- when I was eight, my mom forced me to eat a gigantic plateful of it before I was allowed to go play with my friends – I’ve never been able to stomach it since). I am assuming the bhel was good at Tamarind since everything else was excellent.
basically Tandoori panner but the proper way- crispy and masala’ed on the outside, and wonderfully creamy on the inside, like real fresh paneer- which is so rare in America, where paneer is typically chewy and gross. Tomatoes and onions were also cooked on the grill along with the paneer and provided the perfect, wetter counterpart to this tasty and creamy appetizer. Oh, and the chutney rocked.
I had Hara Bhara Kababs in Bombay once, at a rooftop cafe- but these were phenomenally better. These spinach and cheese patties had a rich, forest green depth of color that seemed to pervade the flavor and make it so delicious! and green! They tasted healthy while also being slightly sinful- after all, they were cheese patties.
For our entrees, we ordered Bhagery Baingan- Japanese eggplant cooked in a peanut, sesame seed, and coconut sauce; Tamarind’s Shiitake- sauteed jumbo Shiitake mushrooms with mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves; and Nargisi Kofta- finely chopped lotus root dumplings with homemade cheese in a saffron onion sauce. (pictured clockwise below):
The eggplant I liked, but didn’t love. But the next two were so good – mushrooms in Indian food is so rare! And there they were, plump and juicy and a little gritty with the mustard seeds! Fantastic. And if that description of the Nargisi Kofta didn’t make you want to eat it off the screen- LOTUS dumplings, CHEESE, SAFFRON sauce- these are all such evocative and luxurious words- and to be EATING them? It tasted heavenly. This dish was fragrant and satisfying at the same time. Go to Tamarind, to eat this dish.
For dessert, we got Kulfi- an Indian version of ice cream that is creamier than American ice cream because it is solid, frozen milk- unlike American ice cream, which is whipped to add air. Anyway, a plain, common Indian dessert- but what a pretty presentation (and taste):