Indian restaurants that don’t offer a buffet have to be especially good. The new owners of RaaSa, Ashok Salian and Priya Kapoor-Salian, have put the kibosh on the buffet, but brought in Michelin-starred Chef Peter Beck (he scored his stars at Benares and at Tamarind Tribeca, which they helped launch). Wisely, they kept the décor from the previous incarnation. That restaurant with the book-spine wallpaper and hanging birdcages we wrote about last year? That’s the one.
The interior of RaaSa
One might be perfectly happy with a small-plates dinner. We didn’t expect to tussle over lasoni gobi, batter-fried cauliflower infused with garlic, ginger, jalapeño, and black pepper, surprisingly mild and ever so slightly crispy under tangy sauce—one of the best iterations we’ve tried. We were charmed by the Chat Corner—a section of the menu devoted to the street foods of India—and enjoyed a samosa-based chat. Less common choices include roasted beets spiced with ajwain (an herb) and stuffed with fresh mango relish; lump crab meat tossed in roasted coconut with black pepper, mustard, and curry leaves; and minced lamb with green herbs and pineapple. Captain Lawrence on draft (though they never did get back to me about which one), size small or large, seals the deal.
Our vegetarian entrée, malai paneer, was superb (and even better as leftovers the next day. Or was it that same night?). Paneer is an ensemble player in deftly made balls submerged in sauce whose cream, spices, and vegetables speak out in equal turns. Pomegranate-infused chicken kabobs over green masala sauce were not the skewers we envisioned, but a stack of puck-shaped kofte-style meatballs, beautifully spiced. (Next time we will avoid getting two meatball-type dishes and try something like lamb chops tandoori.) Sea bass simmered in onion, tomato, coconut, and chili sauce is also on the lunch menu (the highest-priced item, at $14) that, unlike dinner, includes a dosa platter and entrée salads.
Pomegranate-infused chicken kabobs at RaaSa
I will pause now to tell you to get the mango shrikhand dessert—strained yogurt made with mango pulp and cardamom, topped with sliced mango—whose mouthfeel goes into some stretchy, chewy realm not entirely familiar to Western palates. Ten desserts, several house-made, include another pleasing palate stretcher, kulfi falooda (an Indian adaptation of a Persian dessert): pistachio ice cream (the kulfi) garnished with vermicelli noodles (the falooda), tapioca seeds, and rose syrup. In future visits we would certainly get to the apricot bread pudding, chocolate soufflé with rose petal ice cream, and orange-flavored panna cotta, with a cup of masala chai.
145 Main St, Elmsford
(914) 347-7890; www.raasany.com