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Indian in Sea-town


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An Indian buddy of mine from Kansas City will be in town for the next month and he has been starved of good Indian Cooking for the last few years.

Which places do you view to be the most authentic Indian food in Seattle/Eastside?

I understand that Raga is good, and have been to Ceaders numerous times.

Thoughts?

Thanks,

Ben

p.s. he is hindu and is thusly vegetarian so good meatless dishes are a plus.

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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As noted on the sushi thread, my top pick in Seattle, Mayuri, is long-gone. The Mayuri in Bellevue is still open, though--it's next to the Trader Joe's near MS. Best Chicken Makhni in town, great masala dosas; highly recommended.

I ate at Shamiana in Ravenna recently and really liked it; the curries really pop with flavor. Lots of good vegetarian entrees.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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India Bistro in Ballard. Seattle location, north of ship canal. Excellent reviews all-around. Nice enough for a date place, inexpensive, good variety, and plenty of vegetarian. Better quality than Cedars. Haven't been to Raga in years, but I understand it is excellent as well.

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I'm far from being an officianado on Indian food, but I've really enjoyed the meals I've had at Chutney's, both on Cap Hill & Lower Queen Anne. They are somewhat meat-centric, but do have a vegetarian section on their menus if I remember correctly.....

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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Thanks for the recs! I am interested in seeing what my buddy has to say about them compared to home cooking and food in India.

Does anybody know if Indian places like these are westernized or not? For some reason I cant help but think they are to some degree. Most Indian places I have been to have all the usual suspects and not much more on the menu. I do love all of these items (sweet sweet tika masala), but I still wonder what I am missing, especially in the vegetable based vein. I would imagine that all of the spices available in that kind of cuisine would result in some pretty amazing vegetable dishes.

Thanks again!

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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My mother-in-law was born and raised in India and she claims there is no such thing as authentic Indian food in Seattle. Still, hubby (who was raised eating "authentic" Indian food whatever that is) and I both think there are plenty of worthy contendors locally.

I agree that Raga in Kirkland is good. I realy like the owner, he's really devoted to giving a great dining experience. He serves some really interesting seafood preperations, including a curried mussel dish I really liked on my last visit. But your vegetarian friend may not dig that much. The parking around there can suck, so plan on walking a few blocks.

I really like Golkonda in Bellevue -- near Bellevue Crossroads -- because it's 100 percent vegetarian and the curries are out of this world. They serve a mean veggie korma and really good naan. Chutney's in Bellevue (of the same chain in Seattle) is interesting. It's a bistro style Indian restaurant with an unusual take on traditional Indian. Again, I stress that it's not "authentic," but they really aren't trying to be either.

But my all time fave Indian restaurant is in my neck of the woods -- Pabla Indian Cuisine, 364 Renton Center Way S.W., Renton; 425-228-4625 (right off Rainier). It's completely vegetarian and has a grocery store and sweet shop attached. This is a must visit if you're in the Renton 'hood. I love it!

Let us know where you take your friend and what his thoughts were. I'm always on the prowl for a good Indian restauarant.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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A couple of friends of mine went to India a while back and they had an interesting observation on the food. First and foremost was that unless you went to a relatively expensive restaurant, the food was not as good as Indian food here because the quality of the ingredients is generally pretty poot. The other is that India is so vast, that it doesn't make much sense to talk about 'Indian' food the way most of us do. Just as with a place like China or even Italy, apparently there is incredible regional diversity.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well as a first update,

We went to Raga in Kirkland the night he got here.

App- Vegetable Samosas: I thought the spicing on the samosas was very nice, well balanced. The dough and filling, however, didnt quite impress either of us. It seemed way too dense and homogeneous.

Entrees-

Mutter Paneer: This is his favorite dish so he wanted to compare it to others he has had. He said that the one we had was a very good example of the dish. I really loved it; the textural element created by the paneer and the peas was really nice and the spicing of the dish was really great.

Malai Kofta: This dish is a little more creamy than the Mutter Paneer, so it was a nice balance against it. The kofta balls had a very nice texture, I was kindof expecting them to be a little mushy. They had a good hearty meaty feel to them and a great flavor.

We ate the dishes with plain naan and garlic naan. The naan at Raga was a real delight. It was a very different shape than other naan that I have eaten in the past. It was a very long elipse shape rather than a circle.

I had a glass of chai during my meal and I would say that this was the most dissapointing part of it. It looked like chai, it smelled like chai, but it tasted like hot water. :wacko: doh!

Overall, I would say that raga was well worth the trip. My friend had nothing but compliments to give for the food.

Next on our agenda is to have me try my hand at some indian cooking. I have obtained a recipe for Mutter Paneer from Suvir (Thanks!) and will be getting some other recipes from Aakash's (my buddy) mother to try out.

Wish me luck!!!

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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I am quite fond of the Butter chicken at Cedars on Brooklyn. It is chunks of tandori chicken in a tangy tomato cream sauce. Not sure how "authentic" it is, but it sure is good.

A former co-worker from Madras noted that it was quite difficult to find any southern indian food in the US. He was going to take to such a place on a business trip to NYC, but I didn't have the time.

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I used to live half a block from cedars! The chai there is light years better then the kind I had the other night.

Also, good call on the butter chicken. tasty!

I have been trying to find some southern Indian cooking too. I really want to try dosais (spelling), but havent been able to find them.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Golkonda in Bellevue, which I previously posted about, served Southern Indian cuisine... but since my last post I called the restaurant and they're MIA. That totally sucks. They served really excellent masala dosa (yum).

It's not the same, but the owners still operate a stand inside the Crossroads Shopping Center called Bite of India. They serve masala dosa there. The food is also vegetarian. But you have to eat in a mall food court (egads). I have to say, though, that the food court at the Crossroads Shopping Center is actually surprisingly good -- for a food court.

I think that Bite of India is the only place in the region exclusively serving Southern Indian cuisine. If anyone knows otherwise, I'd love to hear it.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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Trip to Taste of India

For this installment of Indian in Sea-town, my accomplices and I wen to Taste of India on Roosevelt. Taste of India is very similar to Cedars a couple blocks away. I believe the owners are father (cedars) and son (Taste of India).

We started off with an order of vegetable samosas and I had ordered a mug of chai. The samosas were much better than the ones we had at raga. The crust was much nicer, almost flakey and a great crispness. The filling was not as mushed together and the peas inside were still intact, which added nice bursts of pea flavor. (heh heh, I just realized I wrote "pea flavor")

The chai was worlds better than at raga. It had a nice full spiced flavor and a good balance of sweetness. The waiters also do a bang up job of keeping it full as well as the water glasses.

For our main courses we ordered: Mutter Paneer (a standard), Channa Masala, and Mutter Aloo.

The Mutter Paneer was really great, aakash ordered one to go for a midnight snack in the future. The pieces of paneer were larger than raga, but fewer. The only problem was that the paneer seemed to be cooked with the rest of the dish so it soaked up too much flavor and lost it's own. It all tasted great, but the paneer lost its integrety.

The Channa Masala had a very nice flavor, but the starchiness of the chickpeas deadened it a little bit. I had trouble eating this with rice because it was a starch overload. I might try to add another component to this dish to compliment the chickpeas.

The Mutter Aloo was pretty much the same as the Mutter Paneer, except with potatoes instead of paneer. Really nice spicing and I couldnt get enough. :biggrin:

We ordered two types of naan and ended up with three for the dinner. Garlic naan, paneer naan, and pesto naan; the pesto naan came as a mixup instead of the paneer naan so they left it with us. Sidenote: pesto does not really go with indian food. :laugh:

During dinner I inquired about the paneer they use. I was curious if they made it or use a product. They said they used a product. I wonder how many places do this instead of making thier own.

After all was said and done, we all had a great experience and declared Taste of India the current leader in our tour.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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Sidenote: pesto does not really go with indian food.

I believe that; however, Laurie and I used to go to this Indian restaurant in New York that served naan stuffed with cheddar cheese, onions, and green peppers. It was great.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sadly, my friend has to leave for Kansas City this weekend. So we had our final Indian meal last night. We decided to go to Shamiana in Ravenna since it was close by and I was curious.

The first part that struck me when we walked in was that there was not a single Indian person working there. The menu tells you that the owners grew up as american children in east pakistan and have lived/toured the subcontinent for a long time before landing in Seattle. We were immediately interested in how the spicing would compare with the other places we tried.

The menu was a little more varied than usual, which is due to the focus on not just Indian cuisine, but others in the area too such as pakistani bbq. Also note that everything on the menu was more expensive than the other places...which put Shamiana under a microscope right away.

We ordered vegetable cutlets, plain and traditional naan, mattar paneer, saag paneer, and tandori chicken tika. I ordered a chili infused lemonade to drink.

Chili infused lemonade- Very good indeed. It had a very nice blend of sweet, sour, and hot. I think I will experiment with this at home and try to replicate it.

Vegetable cutlets- I enjoyed these since the vegetable filling consisted of nicely spiced vegetables that were not all mashed up together. The texture of the dish worked very well, I would get a nice creamy potato in one bite and the clean burst of peas in the next.

Naan- a shade too crispy, the traditional naan was glazed with ghee (clarified butter) and sprinkled with some seeds that I forget the name of. It looked really really appetizing. Parts of it were delicious, but other parts were burnt a little and too crispy.

Note: we also received a creamy cucumber dipping sauce for our meal, which was nicely cool, but I missed the cilantro and tamarind chutney that i have grown accustomed to.

Mattar Paneer- This version looked more like the one i cooked the other night. The tomatoes were chunky and the dish was a little soupier than other places. The flavor was still very nice, but it seemed a shade weak on the spice side. I think the tomato presence was a bit too strong. The paneer was not made in house and while it was in nice even cubes, I would have preferred the smoother taste of homeade.

Saag Paneer- This was the first time I have ever had this dish and I really liked it. The spinach was nicely cooked into a creamy gravy that was delicately spiced. The same paneer was in this dish, I would have preferred homeade.

Note: The above two dishes came each in seperate dishes by themselves. No rice was included with the cost of the dishes. The waiter then told us that it did not come with rice and we could order some if we wanted. Policies like these really annoy me, especially when it is at a more expensive place. Honestly, how much does rice cost to put on a plate, certainly not the three bucks they charge.

Tandori Chicken Tika- This dish came with rice, go figure. The chicken used here was of much better quality than other places I have had this dish. The flavor was good, but I have had better. It was on the expensive side too and was not a very good value.

Overall, I had a mixed experience. I really enjoyed my meal, esp the vegetable cutlets and the chili lemonade. Shamiana would be really awesome if they 1) lowered their prices a bit 2) Included a small bit of complimentary rice 3) offered cilantro and tamarind chutney.

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

I'm resurrecting this thread as I'm curious if folks have new places to add. I've been really sorely dissappointed by the Indian food in Seattle. For a long time I was told to try Chutney's, Cedars and Bengal Tiger. They are all, IMHO, awful. The flavors are all simplified and everything tastes really sweet. Nearly every other Indian place I've been to, so far, suffers from these problems and often is just plain bland.

After four years I finally found one place that I like, called Savoy. It's in Redmond (or maybe it's Bellevue, it's just on the border) on 148th just south of 520, in the same shopping plaza as the big Fred Meyer, next to, of all things, a Chuck E. Cheez. The first good sign was thay they own a pretty massive Indian market next door that I now love shopping at. The menu is divided up by region and everything I've had there has been really excellent. The flavors are rich and layered. When I get lamb it's always tender and juicy. My only complaint is that they go very heavy on the ghee but I'm willing to live with that for how good the food is. They also have, I think, the most extensive (read massive) buffet I've ever seen. The staff appears to be all Indian and a lot of the patrons are as well (fgenerally a good sign).

I still need to try Udupi Cafe (formerly Gokanda) at Crossroads as I hear they're good too. I'm still looking for more options (preferably on the west side of the lake).

Bacon starts its life inside a piglet-shaped cocoon, in which it receives all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and tasty.

-baconwhores.com

Bacon, the Food of Joy....

-Sarah Vowell

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Have you discovered Bukhara yet? It's in Gilman Village. They serve, mostly, Northern Indian food. The garlic naan rocks. They take extra care with the presentation, which I appreciate.

Click here for directions: Bukhara

I drove by Udupi the other night and they seemed to be doing good business. I sure do miss Golkonda though.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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Thoughts on Pabla - I think it is on 2nd, near Pike? I'm not sure if I know what really good Indian food is - I like India Bistro in Ballard as well, but I'm guessing it isn't great.

Tried the lunch buffet - generous, some unusual dishes, lots of Indian appearing (and sounding) dinners. A little more expensive for the buffet than many, maybe $8 or $9?

I don't think it is related to the one in Renton, or at least this one isn't all-veg.

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After four years I finally found one place that I like, called Savoy.  It's in Redmond (or maybe it's Bellevue, it's just on the border) on 148th just south of 520, in the same shopping plaza as the big Fred Meyer, next to, of all things, a Chuck E. Cheez.  The first good sign was thay they own a pretty massive Indian market next door that I now love shopping at.

Oh I gotta check this out. I didn't know there was an indian market in there.

I've eaten at Udupi. Its all vegetarian. I thought it was pretty good, but I haven't eaten a lot of indian that I thought was fabulous around here either. I've been on a quest to find good butter chicken ever since I had some at some little joint on Greenwood Ave. that was pretty damn good. The one time I ate at Cedars I had the same reaction, I thought it was fairly bad. boring flat flavors.

I have eaten at the place by Trader Joe's, and it is good. (or at least I liked it) They do a lunch time buffet that has a lot of dishes so you can sample.

Born Free, Now Expensive

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There is a delightful Indian restaurant in Edmonds called Sahib -- down by the water, next to the train tracks, and just before the ferry landing (north side of the street).

My wife and I have been going to Sahib for several years now and always enjoy the food. Certain times of the year (Indian holidays?) they feature special buffet feasts that are quite wonderful. But it's their regular menu that shines.

The lamb biryani is one of our favorite dishes. A typical dinner for us consists of perhaps a mango lassi to drink, garlic naan (delicious!), vegetable raita, lamb biryani, chicken tikka masala, and afterward, a walk along the beach just a few steps away. Highly recommended.

BBQer

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.

- Mark Twain, 1835 - 1910

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Yeah, Udupi was recommended by a South Indian coworker of mine and I realy like South Indian food so I'm willin gto give it a go.

Bacon starts its life inside a piglet-shaped cocoon, in which it receives all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and tasty.

-baconwhores.com

Bacon, the Food of Joy....

-Sarah Vowell

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We went to Udupi Palace for dinner last night, and it was hands-down the best Indian meal I've had since moving here a year ago. Granted, it's hard to compare between different regional styles of Indian cuisine, but in terms of delicacy of seasonings alone, Udupi Palace is leagues beyond what I've tried here (Taste of India, Bengal Tiger, Maharaja, Moghul Palace).

Although I'm anxious to try idly and its accompanying chutneys, we kids on a budget moved straight to entrees. We ordered a thali (platter with small servings of nine savory dishes and one dessert, plus rice, raita, "yogurt rice," a pappadam-ish wafer, a tortilla-ish pancake, and a small dish of ghee) and a gobi ______ dosa (can't remember the middle word--somthing like "chettidad") and planned to share both.

The thali was beautifully presented and more than ample, and last night's special savory dishes were lemon rice (very subtle and moist), beets (cubed and tossed with--maybe?--a few split peas, lightly and aromatically seasoned), pumpkin curry, some sort of rice/lentil porridge that was *heavenly* and reminded us of grits :wub: , and chana masala (the best rendition of this I've ever had: chickpeas in more of a broth than a sauce, delicately seasoned with garam masala, redolent of cinnamon). In addition, there was sambhar, a thin but very flavorful yellow dal, and some sort of broth. The dessert was a warm rice pudding with golden raisins and cashews--not too sweet, not too thick, just delicious. All for $7.95!

The dosa was also exceptional, very light, crispy, and toasty-tasting. It was folded in half with a generous layer of spicy cauliflower inside, and on the side were bowls of sambhar and a green, yogurty sauce. I ate it both with my hands and with a fork, tearing off pieces of dosa, dolloping some cauliflower inside, drizzling on the green sauce or raita, and folding it up like a tiny taco. It was absolutely delicious and, in keeping with the rest of our dishes, very delicate. And only $6.75, if memory serves. My only complaint is that the cauliflower was a touch oily, but nothing at all like the oily food I've had at Taste of India (which, incidentally, I want to love, since it's so close to my house and has such delicious naan...but the dishes are just swimming with ghee/oil/margarine/whatever they use!).

And the service was very attentive--our waiter even came back a few minutes after bringing us our food and explained each dish to us. The place was nearly full when we left (around 8:30pm)--many Indian families. Needless to say, we'll be going back often.

She blogs: Orangette

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