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Best Indian meal you ever had


Monica Bhide
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Not fair - The expanse, variety and occasions many times cloud one's judgement.

You gonna tell a proud father that his only daughter's wedding feast was not the best ? Come on :smile:

Many of my meals have been banquets, feasts, and special occasion dinners and lunches in honour of someone or some event. I'll have to think about the restaurant aspect a bit more - Maybe I'll have five different restaurant experiences.

anil

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One of five

I'll limit it to the past few years experience.

Leblon,GIG {Rio De-Janeiro} It had been quite some while since we had a semblence of indian food in what happens to be a very carnivorous country. We had been travelling the country with a hectic schedule. Through happenstance, we met a Scottish gentleman at GRU airportwho mentioned a new restaurant being opened in Rio by someone who was British and would feature indian cuisine. We got vague directions and a tel no:

That evening, we asked the hotel to find the rest of the information. We arrived in the residential area of Leblon and barely found the place -

It was their first week - and a formal opening was still some days away. The owner worked for years at the British High Commission in Rio, and for a decade or so, catered to special events and dinners at the HC. She was of Goan descent, raised in England and moved to Brazil - This restaurant was a family enterprise, with son,daughter and daughter-in-law.

The menus were still being tinkered with, and after about half-an-hour chatting, we just told her to take over and serve whatever - Caiprihnia with sugarcane juice, bachalao in pudina-ki-chutney, fiery crabs with ground ginger,garlic and lemon - much like passariano. Since we were the only patrons that evening, at one point the whole family sat in the adjoining table and we just kept tasting.

When time came to pay - They were still not setup for credit cards and had no way to exchange USD to fast falling Rias. SO we paid what was a favorable USD->BRS.

So why does this stand out: They had been doing this catering thing for a long long time, and being served in the diplomatic setting, everything was top quality. The dishes were evolved based on the local ingredients and produce - Surprise was another factor - Finding a regional cuisine (Yeh! Right, portugese is the common language base for goan and brazilian dialects)

which was not a hash of mughlai {though they would be on the menu along with the curries}

fare seen in indian restaurants the world-over.

{Four more to go }

anil

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I think that, of the best meals I had in India, one was Indian and one was probably Afghan.

The clearly Indian one was breakfast at Madras Woodlands in Delhi. It was a series of different nans and chapattis with 20 or so different sauces, each distinctive, and each wonderful! The restaurant was in some fancy hotel (for whatever that's worth), and the service was impeccable.

I had a fabulous meal at the Khyber Pass, in another part of Delhi. The most memorable dish was an extremely flavorful, perfectly cooked leg of goat. The masala it was cooked with was a kaleidoscopic burst of flavors, or whatever other similar turn of phrase you want to use.

I also had a memorable meal in Srinagar at a restaurant up a rickety flight of stairs from the central square that served Kashmiri wedding banquet food. The combination of delicious dishes that were exotic even for someone who had eaten a lot of Indian food and the view of the people with colorful outfits and, in some cases, orange hair in the square below was worth much more than the cost of the food. But I really can't remember the dishes.

I also think that the meal my parents and I had at an Indian restaurant in Akasaka, Tokyo deserves mention. The main things I remember are the carrot halwa, which I believe was better than any I've had since, and the fact that we pigged out. The place was fancy and not cheap, but it was worth it.

All these meals took place in 1977, except for the one in Tokyo, which was in 1975, so that's why I don't remember everything!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Two of five

Jewel of India{NYC} When it first opened in the same block as Harvard Club, Jewel of India was refreshing diversion and very close by to where I was - Grad Center. They had buffet lunch at approx $12.95. Good friends of ours, were looking to have their wedding lunch at an Indian restaurant - Since we were all from Graduate Center a.k.a Graduate School & University Center; it was easier to pick that place.

The Lunch was on a weekend - guests were arriving from all over the world, and many from India - The things that I remember most vividly was the spicy paneer pakoras, mustard saag, kulchas and shahi-kurma.

Why is it memorable: Probably because it was a special buffet lunch with apps. that are not normally served @ buffets. While there was tandoori naan, there was an alternative to it - Kulcha.

{Three more to go }

anil

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Not fair - The expanse, variety and occasions many times cloud one's judgement.

You gonna tell a proud father that his only  daughter's wedding feast was not the best ? Come on  :smile:

Monica, Not fair is right....

Without a blink or not getting personal at any one I will say,

Few Road side Dhabas.

Prasad

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.....

I thought without being prejudice, I will pick on dhabas of India, which I really enjoy. I am in the business. Along the border I can certainly pick on the good ones, not the best of best  :cool:  :cool:

As long as you limit the dhabas to '90s experience :smile:

anil

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I lived in NYC for a short while when I was young and foolish ;) Some of the best Indian food I had was a little joint with a funny looking waiter on 2nd avenue. I can't remember the name, and I apologize 'cause there's a ton of Indian food restaurants on 2nd ave, and many of them are really NOT good.

Anyway, they served a truly hot & tasty chicken vindaloo, service was always very friendly, and well the decor, well, left something to be desired - but you can't have everything...

I admit I am not experienced whatsoever in Indian cuisine, but I certainly do enjoy it, and I'm sure that the best is yet to come!

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Three of Five

Zaika{LON}

It used to be that whenever I was in town, someone or the other had planned our evening outings complete with dinner and whatever the shleebang was. However, this time I was on a quick trip -

I had not informed anyone of my arrival. After a day at LSE, I was asked by one of the lecturer if I wanted to join them for a non-curry Indian food in a newly opened restaurant.

We ordered two platters of apps. Seafood and kebabs, crabs,lobsters,scallops and duck. Ignoring the minor dissappointment I had with the garlic nan; The meal was outstanding and we ended up ordering more than we could possibly eat. We just by-passed the desserts. First, I had been mildly amused by the comment made before we reached the restaurant that this place was the next best thing in Indian scene in London.

As we entered the place, I began to suspect that my colleague was probably on to something. Doing meats is kind of easy compared to fish and seafood where it is easy to over do it. The lobsters and scallops were innovatively spiced and effort made to ensure that the spice did not overpower the taste of the lobster.

Months later, Zaika started getting good reviews and became quite impossible to get in without much planning in advance {read week's reservation at least}

two to go

anil

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Four of Five

Dimple NYC

The first I heard of Dimple was from a friend of mine who keeps kosher and works in the W 30s. Months later, aroundnoon we were getting out a meeting @ 2Penn, and to accomodate a person who is kosher, and another who is a vegan - I told them about this Indian Kosher place that I had not been to but had heard of. So we decided to go to Dimple.

Six of us, were seated in a long table in the back. Lookin at the menu I was excited to see an array of chaats and appetisers. We ordered 12 chaats and appetisers, and three different parathas {Aloo,Mooli and gobhi}

When ever we went to eat Chaats in Juhu we never shared, since we all stood and had the `bhaiyya' serve us directly into our plates. Here we were all sharing a taste of each - After a long time I was having chaat in NYC, and also in none seating able to taste a really vast variety of apps. while making your own paani-puri is no fun, something is better than nothing :smile:

One more to go

Take a guess which one ?

Edited by anil (log)

anil

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Rajasthan - My husband and three friends from Ann Arbor we had taken to India. We rented a Sumo (with a driver, Singh) and drove from Agra to Jaisalmer.

Singh took us to a Dhaba on one of our journeys. All of us had sore bones from the Sumo on rickety roads and were much in need of a long, relaxed meal.

The dhaba.No name. A little whitewashed brick building. Scrub fields behind it. Gorgeous mustard fields in front of it that infused the air with a pungent aroma. Bright, clear winter afternoon. Charpais. Sleeping truck drivers. Tables covered with thatch umbrellas.

And the food. Toor daal with a garlic tarka that we could smell sitting there in the front yard. Saag, of course. The mustard fields made that inevitable. Aloo-gobi. Piping hot tandoori rotis being ferried to us straight off the tandoor, by a man in a lungi and banian who seemed to enjoy that we must have consumed more than twenty amongst the five of us. Sweet, sweet raw onion. Lassis in tall steel glasses.

Incomparable.

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Singh took us to a Dhaba on one of our journeys.

The dhaba.No name. Sleeping truck drivers. Tables covered with thatch umbrellas.

And the food. Toor daal with a garlic tarka that we could smell sitting there in the front yard. Saag, of course. The mustard fields made that inevitable. Aloo-gobi. Piping hot tandoori rotis being ferried to us straight off the tandoor,

Incomparable.

This is what, I am talking about a good dinner in a dabha, no name.... except these dabhas i was refering were in Maharashtra and A.P.

P2

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So if one can't get into Zaika in London and has time for but one Indian meal there, where might one go? Anyone else have a best there?

I've been scratching my head about this and recall a good place buried somewhere off Fleet St. I savoured an excellent lamb rhogan josh there once. But alas I haven't a clue where it might be or if it still might be, as that was mid-90s. It was one of those hole in the wall restaurants.

Also are there any really good Balti houses in London or is the border for this beyond the orbital? I've been to some round about Birmingham and south of Stoke on Trent and would love to recreate the experience in London. I miss table naan and an excuse to eat straight from the pot. Oh, and with even less of a shot of success, does anyone know of a Balti restaurant in the US or a decent Indian restaurant in North Carolina? If I have headed too far off topic, please flag me, but I'm hoping that best Indian meals might also manifest in other non-core places where Indian expats have settled. I know one of mine was at a friend from Bombay's, home in LA.

Thanks a million -

Weka

"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least."

- Goethe

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i really liked chowki when i was in london - you may want to try that. i think it's in piccadilly circus. details are available if you search for chowki in google.

heard good things about mela too (same chef as chowki, more upscale i think) but i've not been there myself.

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In my view, the closest you can get to a balti/cafe/canteen place in London

is to go to Aldgate in East London and then either the 'Lahore Karahi House' on Umberston street, or the 'New Tayyab' on Fieldgate St.

Both are very simple and cheap places, usually full of Indians and Pakistanis.

The menus (especially in the Lahore) are very limited but what they do, they do well. And what they do well is seekh kebabs, chicken tikkas, fresh naans, and karahi dishes. Typical Punjabi fayre, with no messing about.

If you want more info on these places, try searching the 'United Kingdom' forum as these are popular places.

Rgds

Rick

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Five of five

Coconut Grove, NYC

Diagnonally across from Bay Leaf, Coconut Grove opened without much attention given by the press. I went there two day's before opening - then three four times more later in the year.

The appetisers - ceviche !! indian style was very bold in using mixture of tamrind water, and lemon - the appam freshly made was really surprisingly similar to what I remember eating in the south - Chettinad Fish (here it was salmon) very similar to varuval (sp ?) For desert it was payasam - not with dal as I was used to but some legume which I forgot to ask. and a pint of Boddington which they carried on draft.

Coconut Grove for various reasons did not survive. It was in the two blocks which has had many pretty diverse set of restaurants, so t was not for lack of clientele in that area.

anil

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Many more....

Purposely I have excluded five great meals I've had in India - Because, I would have to include my favourite Gymkhana in Mumbai, and also Clubs, which are not really open to general public. Also catered meals in India occasionally rise to very high levels of sublime culinary experience; comparing them would be inappropriate.

Dhabas -- With exception to probably deep south, where I had no experience, most of the dhabas I ate and slept at night in, were catering mostly to Punjabi / hindustani {bhayyias as they were called} truck-drivers who plyed the transportation trade all over india. The food in all these places were without doubt excellent but simple fare - cooked by a billu , or a kake , by whose name the dhabas were known. The recipies of the one of two signature dishes probably brought from their home village in Punjab,Haryana or U.P. made them famous in the truck route.... or the National highway segments......

A special mention for sentimental reasons are Pritams, Dadar , Moti Mahal, Old Delhi ad Saturday Club, Kolkatta.

Edited by anil (log)

anil

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