When life doles out lemons, the resourceful among us make lemonade. Taking that maxim to heart is an excellent strategy for the COVID-19 miasma in which we find ourselves today. Why excellent strategy? The lemonade analogy likely is good for one’s emotional health, especially since you and I cannot change today’s reality anytime soon.
Which brings us to Tandoor Cuisine of India, as an example of the lemonade maxim. The eatery’s pre-virus lunch trade revolved around a buffet table where Jewish diners-out could pick and choose from an array of savory items. What’s not to like about that?
Personally, I love a good buffet as much as the next person. But now at lunch, the a la carte menu is in at Tandoor, which gives all of us a chance to sharpen our focus on favored entrees. Think about it: as a Jewish diner-out who loves Indian food, you probably have favorites. In restaurants without buffets, you peruse the menu and pick a meal for yourself. Now, and for a while at least, that is the rule for all local eateries, regardless of the cuisine offered. So, rather than lament, embrace!
In the Dining Out column, we have written about Indian cuisine being the “most veggie-friendly” of all ethnic eats by far. This fact comes to us via the Love Food organization, which claims that a full 40 percent of India’s huge population (1.38 billion!) is vegetarian, and a large percentage of that number are strictly so, eating no eggs or fish. So, there are more vegetarians in India than there are people in the USA. With those numbers comes a cultural concentration on creating dishes that satisfy the Indian dining public. In other words, these folks do veggies right; good combos, great taste profiles, gastronomically pleasing.
India has been heading toward the current eating preferences since at least 1000 BCE. Fertile land, optimum growing seasons, and high per capita numbers in relation to the land available has made agriculture a more sensible approach than animal husbandry in feeding the masses. Said another way, in a densely populated country, historians claim that using every cubit of land for crops made the most sense.
The heavy vegetarian emphasis of Indian eateries fits nicely with Jewish diners looking for kosher-style menu choices. In fact, the vegetarian section of the Tandoor Cuisine of India menu is the largest, and there are other vegetarian dishes in the Chef Recommendations section as well. You’ll find a number of dishes that are classic. One is the aloo gobi masala, a dish with origins in the Indian subcontinent. The dish features potatoes (aloo), cauliflower (gobi) in a yellowish curry, a spice array that includes turmeric. For those who may not know (or may have forgotten), that spice has been clinically identified as a hedge against memory loss due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Does it work? No definitive proof, but diseases that affect memory are rare among ethnic Indians, markedly below world norms, and turmeric is a common denominator for India’s people in the equation of sustained mental acuity to the end of life.
Two of my favorite veggie entrees at Tandoor are the palak paneer, a spinach dish, and mushroom matter, featuring mushrooms and peas. The first of these dishes is a combination of nearly pureed spinach and a type of cottage cheese (paneer) made into a paste. The ingredients are mixed to a sauce-like consistency and lightly seasoned with garlic, ginger, and other spices. For those who prefer dishes not heavily spiced, this dish is ideal. The second entrée features sliced mushrooms and green peas cooked in a curry sauce. The fan base for this dish is broad, judging by patrons I have spoken with over the years at Tandoor.
While both dishes mentioned can be brought to your table or readied for carryout as mildly seasoned entrees, the heat index can go higher upon request. “We can spice each dish the way the diner wants it,” said Naren Patel, owner of Tandoor. Following up, he said: “A lot of our guests (usually ethnic Indians) will ask us to fix something special for them, and we are happy to do that. We enjoy doing that and we believe it sets us apart from the other restaurants around.”
At Tandoor Cuisine of India, meat is available, of course. Tandoor features chicken, lamb and fish dishes. But vegetable dishes such as mushroom matter often are the stars of the show for many diners out.
See you at Tandoor Cuisine of India!
Tandoor Cuisine of India
8702 Market Place Lane
Montgomery, OH 45242