|Dosa -- a little one from lunch -- at Mango Grove|
When we go for Indian, we love the comfortable feeling of dishes that we eat again and again. The mashed eggplant of baingan bartha. A lentil dish. A chicken tikka masala or chicken korma. That is guaranteed pleasure without even opening the menu -- and way more than a meal for two of us. So we haven't branched out as much as we could.
I was thinking about this a few weeks ago when Diana lamented the shuttered Akbar's by saying that its kitchen had turned out her favorite non-standard Indian dish -- lamb xiacutti, a dish from the town of Goa. I had never heard of the dish. I never knew Akbar offered it. Now, I'm on Wikipedia reading about lamb or chicken cooked with poppy seeds, coconut, and red chilis, and I wish that I could find xiacutti (or "xacuti" as spelled by Wikipedia).
What other special dishes should I check out?
This feels like a good time to talk about special Indian dishes because Ananda -- formerly to be called The Polo Club -- will open soon on Maple Lawn Boulevard in Fulton. Then Chutney appears to filling the former Akbar in Columbia, maybe with some former chefs from House of India. I hope they both offers something unique.
For now, I always talk up dosas, the thin crepe-like dish from southern India that normally comes wrapped around a filling of mashed vegetables. Mango Grove does several varieties. Flavors of India does as well. They're wonderfully exotic, but they're completely accessible -- and very friendly for children or people who don't like curries -- because simple dosas just boil down to crisp batter wrapped around tasty mashed potatoes.
I also loved the whole fish at House of India when we ate it several years ago. We were served a whole rockfish cooked in the tandoor oven, served beautifully with charred skin and a delicious sauce laced with ginger. For vegetarians, I'd ask for the jackfruit curry at Mango Grove. They use unripened fruit to make a curry with a delicious flavor and a texture that could make you think you were eating chicken.
These are the dishes that would make me drive past all the great Indian restaurants to eat from a specific kitchen. I also crave the Nepalese dumplings called momos that you can get at Curry & Kabob in Columbia. Royal Taj makes us love our regular orders, so they must have specials that are just as excellent.
What are your favorite dishes at Indian restaurants? What are the specials or the unusual dishes that make a certain restaurant stand out? Any regional dishes? Any fusions?