Traditional Indian Dishes Get Savory Updates in N
Get the royal treatment—without trekking to Queens
For years, whenever I’d had a hankering for Indian food, I’d head to Jackson Heights, Queens, where some of the best Indian food in the country can be found. Admittedly, it is a schlep, and the parking is a hassle, but the food is worth the effort.
At least, it was, until I discovered the far more convenient and—dare I say it?—better alternative right here in
Dakshin (Sanskrit for “south”) in Stamford, CT, decided to open a new location in Westchester. We’re glad they did. Every dish we tried on a recent visit—from traditional dishes to compelling innovations—was replete with subtle flavor nuances, distinguishable even to a jaded Queens-goer.
Ignore the ’80s-inspired dÃ©cor, with its muted neon lights and multi-colored walls. The real ambience comes from the elegant servers with their extensive knowledge and lilting accents. On weekends, the lovely, traditionally clad Elcy Chiyezhath, wife of one of the four owners, will come to your table to be sure you are enjoying your meal, and answer questions about the cuisine of which she is clearly so proud.
Calamari Coromandel, she told us, is based on a traditional dish: the tender, batter-coated rings seemed like a sophisticated take on the Italian version. We guessed from the charming and whimsical presentation of the shamm savera—spinach wrapped around mild Indian cheese that looked like sushi—this wasn’t a traditional dish. We didn’t expect, however, to become so addicted to the honey-laced, spiced tomato sauce that we’d forget our manners and slurp it up with a spoon.
Coromandel’s masala dosa was surprisingly sweet the night we sampled it, but our server said the crispy rice and lentil crÃªpe changes all the time, depending on how the flour reacts with the air during the fermentation process. Similarly, we were told the sweet-tart raisinated tamarind sauce, which takes days to make and is served with crisp papadam the moment you arrive at the table, varies from batch to batch.
Specialties from the front of the menu emphasize the cuisine of the southeastern coast, and I may not stop going back to Coromandel until I’ve tried every single selection. Ask your servers to describe the fare in more detail than the menu provides. We might not have noticed the kodi vepudu, a spicy chicken dish with layers of exotic flavor, described on the menu simply as “chicken with onions, green chiles, ginger, garlic and curry leaves in a spicy dry masala sauce.”
Sabji bhaji, described as “a Calcutta-Jewish vegetable stir-fry,” was more like a rich and satisfying stew with crisp-tender vegetables and a complex and robust sauce made with yogurt, onions, ginger and curry.
The Parsi dish kolmino patio, made with enormous crisp, sweet shrimp, was served in a sauce like an inspired jazz improvisation: the flavors scat across high notes and low, skipping and skittering between sweet, sour, musky, spicy and mellow flavors in delicious harmony.
The food at Coromandel is so sensually satisfying that you may want only a small bite of something sweet at the end of your meal. Share ras malai, the traditional Indian cottage cheese balls served in a sweet saffron and cardamom-infused milk sauce, or gulab jamun, fried, round pastry made from milk powder served in a sweet syrup punctuated with rose water. Either serve as a fitting conclusion to your journey through the culinary wonders of
COROMANDEL, CUISINE OF INDIA
30 Division St., New Rochelle
Lunch, Mon. to Sun. 12-2:30 pm
inner, Sun. to Thurs. 5-10 pm