I say family recipe because all the prepared, non-tandoori, dishes all have very similar tastes; not unlike my grand mother's Italian. Oh, I still love my grandma's food but its very much based on her tastes, which reflect a narrower range of cooking options, seasoning, etc..
We went last night (Saturday) and started with splitting some daal soup. It was very nice. A little less lentil than we remember for this soup and a little more starchy (consistency) than we also remembered.
VEGETARIANS, take note...We ordered the cauliflower and potato dish and a green peas and potato dish. Both were very similar in construction and taste. Both vegetable dishes were actually greasy. The cauliflower dish was "swimming" in grease and In fact for both dishes, the longer they sat the more grease came to the surface. Now keep in mind, they're vegetable dishes. Why the heck do you need so much fat when Indian food has such good complexities adding so much fat not only "smooths" out the complexities, which is not preferred, it doesn't really add much in taste but makes the "vegetable" dish so unhealthy. The server saw this before bringing to the table and he also noticed how greasy it was(after we brought it to his attention). Furthermore the owner looked at it afterwards and agreed it was WAY TOO GREASY. I'm thinking "hey, then why did you both let this get brought to the table?". I felt bad for my fiance, who's vegan, because it was her birthday meal and we wanted to do something special.
Additionally they served my tandoori dish as if it was Mexican fajitas, with butter on the hot plate of onions and green peppers (the server and owner confirmed it was butter). Yes, it came out sizzling and smoky, which frankly is a tradition I've not seen a many really special Indian restaurants but more for the "masses" kind of places, but the butter added NOTHING in the way of taste except to make all of the grilled veges greasy and the meats greasy on the bottom. Other than the grease, the tandoori dish had very good flavor. How much grease? Well I lifted the dish at one end and the greasy butter "pooled" at the other end.
We also had garlic naan, and frankly, after looking at all the other dishes, it was also greasy with yellow butter lathered up over the all the slices.
The owner was nice and allowed us to replace it with another dish, but by then, my fiance was "done" and nothing could assuage her. They kindly removed the main offending cauliflower dish but I really wished they had removed both.
I tried to explain this to the owner who informed me that "some people just don't like grease so please let us know on your next visit and we wont put it on". This is EXACTLY something my grandmother would say in defense of HER family dishes.
The bottom line, really great Indian food that is a culinary experience has many complex features that are not obscured by using so much fat.
Its true, this IS the best Indian restaurant that I've been to in the area but that just tells you how low the bar is in the Tampa/St. Pete area when it comes to any ethnic food.
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