THE sizzling sound and the heavenly aroma teased our senses as a smoking hot plate of chicken slices on a bed of cabbage and green vegetable strips was laid on our table.
It was our first time to try one of the Tandoori treasures of the Taste of India, the famous Tandoori Chicken.
Wasting no time, we dug into our order and found the chicken tender and its flavor went all the way down to the last bite — a change from your usual grilled, barbecued, or fried chicken where you only get to enjoy the crunchy portion.
The Tandoori Chicken has none of the usual oil or fat that forms a pool in your plate or coats your hands after eating. It is one dish whose taste and appearance you can describe to others, but not the blending of the palate-teasing sound and smell that leaves your mouth watering. Order a whole Tandoori Chicken for $15.95, but half an order at $8.95 was enough for the three of us.
Taste of India chefs Dinesh and Sharad earlier showed us the chicken slices that had been marinated in special spices for 24 hours, skewered and placed in a tandoor oven over live coals.
When Dr. Vincent Panikulangara, the new restaurant owner, asked me earlier if I had tried Tandoori chicken before, I nodded. (Although I had no intention to tell him I became familiar with Tandoori Chicken only in my Café World on Facebook.)
Before the Tandoori Chicken arrived, we chose something we had not tried before from the beverage menu — Masala Chai, an Indian special tea with spices.
Radhika Itani, the food staffer, surprised us by lifting the pitcher of tea and expertly pouring the Masala chai into cups without spilling a single drop. The sweet aroma of tea permeated the air before we took sips from our cups. The hot Masala Chai is a sweetish blend of tea with ginger and cardamom flavor.
Restaurant manager Thomas Agi tempted us to try their shrimp curry and fish masala, and we ordered Naan bread to go with it. You can go for hot, medium hot, and hot-hot-hot flavor — it’s your call.
Other Indian breads available are Roti, Bhattura, Paratha, Chappati and Poori.
Appetizers are from $2.50 to $3.95 including cutlets or spiced beef, fish or vegetable patties, Samosa or pyramid shaped Indian savory mutton, and more.
Other must-taste Tandoori are the Rashmi Kabab or chicken spiced and coated with egg and cooked in tandoor oven, Chicken Kesari Tika, Sheek Kebab or minced meat of lamb spiced and cooked in tandoor oven, or the Fish Tikka.
The Taste of India carries a selection of beverages including liquors, beers, wines, cocktails, soft drinks and juices, coffee, Indian milk or tea, and house specialties such as the mango lassi, sweet lassi or salt lassi, a yogurt base Indian drink.
Curry specials include beef, lamb, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, crab, lobster and vegetarian curry, all starting from $12.95 and up.
Rice at the Taste of India does not mean a serving of plain rice. It comes in several variations such as the Vegetable Pullao or Indian fried rice with vegetables, or the Chicken Biriyani, a full meal by itself which is an exotic south Indian preparation of long grain rice, spiced with chicken, served with sour cream and cucumber, pappad and topped with boiled egg.
Panikulangara said Indian cuisine at the Taste of India is not only about eating but it is about healthy eating.
“We use fresh, locally produced vegetables, but we get our exotic variety of spices from different regions in India,” he said, adding that Indian food flavor and preparation varies from one region to another.
“When you dine with us, we take you on a gustatory trip to the different parts of India,” he said.
The Taste of India offers delicious and healthy Indian lunch buffets Mondays to Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $9.95. Saturday lunch is a la carte, and dinner starts from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. The restaurant is closed on Sundays, except for special occasions like Father’s Day on June 19.
The Taste of India is located near iConnect on Middle Road. Major credit cards are accepted. For reservations, call 234-8448. (This article was first published HERE)