Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Tamarind

I love Indian food. North Indian curries to south Indian dosas - I love it all. The only problem is I developed my taste for it in Houston, where the Indian restaurants were not only plentiful but delectable to boot. Since leaving Houston in 2000, I have failed to recreate the low-priced, flexible take-out, delivery, dine-in, and buffet experience to which I had become accustomed. So far in NYC, I haven’t had much luck either. The cheap delivery/dine-in chain Baluchi’s was okay the first time, then ultra greasy and nasty the second. Namaskarr Indian Bistro in SoHo again was reasonable the first time, but really off the second. This leads me to the next pick, recommended by a friend’s Indian boss, Tamarind (22nd St. between Broadway and Park). Unfortunately, Tamarind does not fall into the ultra-cheap column, but it’s not that pricey. However, I was pleasantly surprised by a well-executed, flavorful meal.

Tamarind is an upscale Indian restaurant in with simplistic modern touches, soft lighting, and cozy curtained booths. The kitchen is exposed to the dining room, and when you walk by you can look into the tandoors (clay ovens that look like big clay pots) with gravity defying nans clinging to the sides.

We started with potato and pea samosas ($5.50) and assorted batter fried pakoras (cheese, spinach, potato), basically we had the Indian version of the fried sampler. Each was crisp and grease-less and resulted in a sweet-savory blend when dipped in the accompanying chutney. Although Tamarind does offer a greater variety of dishes you don’t typically see on every Indian restaurant menu (including two lobster dishes and venison chops), we stuck with some of our traditional favorites. The chicken tikka masala ($17) had the mild tomato and cream flavor you expect with tender chucks of chicken grilled in the tandoor. The lamb vindaloo ($18) was especially spicy (too spicy for me) with savory lamb kebabs. I enjoyed the lotus root and homemade cheese dumplings in the nargisi kofta ($14), but the rich saffron and onion sauce fell a little flat. The standout dish of the evening was the saag paneer ($14) – it was awesome. I know we’ve all had this dish a million times and enjoyed it, but Tamarind takes it to new heights. The spinach had a delicate flavor without being salty and the homemade cheese adds the perfect texture. The nan ($3.75) was chewy and fresh, but I found the poori ($4), deep fried puffy bread, too greasy.

Tamarind’s portions are small and the prices a little high, but they do churn out solid Indian cuisine in a comfortable, almost elegant setting. If you’re tired of trying unacceptable Indian restaurants, here’s one that does a decent job. Sure, it’s not an all-around homerun, but it’s worth a try.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should totally try Spice on University and... 11th Street or around there, I believe. Not Spice Cafe, which is just down University and serves Thai food, but Spice, which is known for totally yummy Indian food at fairly decent prices. I especially enjoy an appetizer called something like Palak Papri Chaat, which has cold yogurt, spinach, and crispy bits. I know it sounds ill, but it is actually delicious!

AK

12:49 PM  
Blogger git said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I will definately give it a try.

Jennie

1:23 PM  
Blogger lia said...

I live on the Upper West Side and the Tamarind on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st is one of my favorite places in the neighborhood. It's very small and modern, the staff is ultra friendly and the kitchen both speedy and consistently good (the same is true for delivery). My comfort food there is lamb curry + garlic naan, you just can't go wrong.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AK has it backwards. Cafe Spice is the Indian (Fusion) Restaurant and Spice is the Thai one. But for the best cheap Indian food in NYC, go to Curry-in-a-Hurry. You have to get past the really lame decor and cafeteria style dining, because the food is delicious. Although, stay away from the Mulgatawni soup there. Not so good.

5:18 PM  

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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.