Tuesday, January 17, 2012

There Are No Prison Blues If You Have Naan

Today Ed and I had a new experience - Indian food. Can you believe, in all the years we've been on the road, and all the places we've gone to eat, that we've never had Indian food?? I don't know why, but I guess it just didn't initially appeal to me and I really didn't know what to order, so I kinda stayed away.

But today, after taking my mother to one of her appointments, we all decided to try out a new Indian place in town -
Saffron Indian Bistro.It was a beautiful little place, very open and airy, lots of natural light - the entire front of the restaurant is floor to ceiling windows - and the smells coming from the kitchen were delightful.

We started with two appetizers (which I neglected to get pictures of), but they were delicious. We had a Vegetable Samosa; crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes and baby field peas and seasoned with fresh madras Indian spices and Saffron Shrimp; fresh pacific shrimp lightly battered and dusted with ground cumin, mild red chili and coriander. They also put a basket of Papadums - crispy thin Indian spiced lentil wafers - on the table with two dipping sauces. It was a nice start.
We all ordered a different entrée to try a little of each dish and two orders of Naan Bread (classic and garlic) which I LOVE.Each entrée was served with Basmati Rice, so they brought a bowl to the table for all to share.
Ed, as usual, was bold and went for something not as safe as "just chicken" like my mother and I did. He had the Saffron Tandoori Grill; a generous selection of tandoori gems featuring pieces of chicken tikka (which is the national dish of England, according to the menu, slow simmered in fresh tomato sauce with a hint of cream and zesty Indian herbs and spices), lamb, shrimp, shish kabob and a chicken leg. The menu states it's a meal fit for a rajah (king).Ed's meal was served with a side of Raita; diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions mixed with fresh yogurt and a touch of toasted cumin seed. It was actually a pretty good dip for the Naan bread.
Now before I even get to the entrées my mother and I ordered, I have to say, they were not very visually appealing. I'd like to say the pictures do them no justice, but the pictures look exactly how they look when placed in front of us - a bowl of gloppy well, glop. But it was delicious glop.

I ordered Chicken Korma; a rich onion based sauce infused with mild spices cooked and seasoned with ground cardamom and saffron. It was reeeaaallly delicious.
My mother's dish (which honestly, was hideous to look at) was called Chicken Hara Bhara; chicken flavored with black peppercorn in an onion and spinach based sauce. Hers was also pretty good. Surprising.
We didn't order desert, but because it was our first time there our server brought us out two small dishes to taste. The Rice Pudding; caramalized basmati rice laced with ground almonds, toasted pistachios and fresh raisins, all slowly simmered in milk and Mango Pudding; fruit cocktail mixed with homemade mango flavored custard. The rice pudding was a little watery (I prefer mine thick) but it was very, very good. I have a great rice pudding recipe and next time I make it, I'm putting almonds and pistachios in it - it really elevated the taste. And the mango pudding was interesting.

On the way out, I took a picture of the cute little bar...
And the spacious dining room...
I enjoyed the meal enough that I think I'd probably give Indian food another try. My favorite part though, was the Naan. As with every restaurant I go to, I always love having a little bread.

I'm thinking if I ever went to prison, I'd be really okay with the bread and water thing.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
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Anonymous said...

WoW.. I haven't eaten out in days and now my mouth is watering!!.. You actually described each dish quite nicely and correctly..!!..
Samosas are the staple snacks especially in government offices(no government is said to be complete without a samosa..
You should try tandoori roti(thats what the "bread" is called)and rumali roti (its quite thin and long)..
And about presentation well I think these kind of dishes have very little scope of being presented nicely!! since it is a lot of curry and has to be put in a bowl.. Nobody here cares about presentation here I guess.. taste matters as you found out..!!.. :P
Non-veg Items are mostly same.. but if you want to try some vegetarian items.. try shahi paneer (royal cheese curry)(not many restaurants get the best taste) or Malai Kofta (butter and balls of cheese)..
And the rice pudding.. its one thing I can eat for days and days and some more days..its the best sweet.. I'll go and have some right now.. :P

Anonymous said...

Yes Indian food is one of the best. But be careful you will need those bikes :)

Angela said...

We have a fabulous little Indian place that opened up just a few blocks away here, we LOVE it. What I like most about it is that during lunch it's buffet style which allows us to try all sorts of things with out regret. And then in the evenings we can go and have a more formal sit-down and have the server try to explain the dishes as we peruse the menu.

I tried a dish which I cannot recall the Indian name of but it was described as "mango chicken" and man it was amazing. I also enjoy their veggie curry, medium on the heat (as you can order mild, medium or hot at this place).

Mmm... now I want to go there for lunch soon. :)

Oh and Naan. Love. It. But then it's very similar to pita and I could eat both every single day.

ELH said...

Oh Salena, those pics are killers...i am now starving..if those dishes tasted as good as they look, you guys ate very gooood.

The Daily Rant said...

ANONYMOUS (A.R.): The samosa were great. And I’ve had roti bread and really like it….the round one, not the thin, long one. And with some cuisines, I’m not too concerned with presentation if it’s delicious. I’ve made some stuff myself that I couldn’t find a way to make it look cookbook perfect but it was DELISH! The taste totally matters. I will try some of the vegetarian dishes next time, there were lots of choices. I didn’t see the shahi paneer (they have Paneer Haryali – homemade cheese cooked with baby spinach seasoned with fresh garlic, toasted cumin and a hint of cardamom. And the Malai Kofta they have on the menu says “vegetable rolls simmered in tomato and cream sauce” – not as you’ve described “butter and balls of cheese” – although, how can you go wrong with butter and cheese?

GIGI: They had a buffett but because I didn’t know what I was ordering, I wanted to read the menu and try specific items. Now that I’ve had a taste of a few things, I’ll be more adventurous to try the buffet.

ELH: We always seem to eat pretty good – I think that’s our problem. And why we need bikes for exercise! LOL