Do you like Indian Food? I sure do. I have a couple of favorite destinations on Indian Row (East 6th Street) and also Curry Hill (vicinity of Lexington Ave and 28th Street) but I didn’t really have a favorite Indian restaurant with a proper uptown address. That changed last week when I was invited to visit and review Aangan, conveniently located just steps from the 103rd Street stop on the Number One train. Even folks who dread traveling above 14th Street can be assured that dinner at Aangan is worth the trek!
Our considerable feast at Aangan included at least a dozen different dishes, all delicious, but where Aangan really distinguishes itself from its peers is in the restaurant atmosphere, level of gracious service and overall dining experience. Aangan is a Hindi word meaning “Courtyard,” and it is typically associated with the open spaces in traditional Indian homes – an area where families get together to relax, dine and spend time with each other.
In this way, Aangan provides an authentic Indian courtyard restaurant experience on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The restaurant’s interior is beautifully fitted with a glass mosaic chandelier, wall mounted candle fixtures and elegant, modern padded wall finishes. Floor to ceiling windows looking out onto Broadway provide lots of natural light and great people watching. Once the sun sets, Aangan continues to glow with its special brand of hospitality.
My dining companion (also a food blogger) and I ordered modestly: two appetizers and two entrees – all to share – plus a basket of bread. But our waiter asked if they could bring us a few additional items and house specialties which they’d like us to try, and we could hardly refuse. What we ended up with was a bona fide Indian buffet featuring favorite dishes and tasty new discoveries.
What we ate:
Shrimp Balchao: Medium-sized shrimp marinated in Goan Balchao Sauce ($10.95). When people say a shrimp dish was “Perfectly cooked,” they are talking about the tender and sweet shrimp in this dish. The sauce has just a mild kick. Really lovely.
For an unusual appetizer, go with the Bhel in Phyllo Dough Cups, comprised of Spiced crispy Rice and Lentil Flour savories served in pastry cups ($6.95). It’s a light and tasty choice that I’ve never seen on any other menu.
Another favorite that I first had at Junoon is the Lahsooni Gobhi: Lighty battered and Crispy Fried Cauliflower tossed in Tomato Garlic Sauce ($8.95). This is a hearty appetizer for vegetarians or a complimentary side to any meat dish.
The two appetizers we ordered, Vegetable Samosas: Triangular turnovers filled with Potatoes and Peas ($6.95), and the Paneer Pakora: Cottage Cheese Fritters Served with Mint Chutney and Tamarind Sauce ($7.95), arrived on an attractive platter of mixed Vegetraian appetizers including Vegetable Kabob (mashed veggies in a lentil wrap) and a very delicious, pleasantly crunchy Onion Pakora. This off-menu assortment is something you could ask your server about if you are game for trying many different things. Aangan is very eager to make sure your experience is enjoyable and personalized. And, as you can see, they create a beautiful presentation with every dish.
They also brought us a Small Platter of Chicken and Lamb Tandoori to sample. The lamb is exceptionally tender and flavorful, and the chicken is a good choice for the less-adventurous diners in your group.
Tandoori Lamb Chops are another house specialty, priced to share at $19.95.
(Photo Above and Below By Anne Raso)
Also perfect for sharing, and with a gorgeous presentation, if I may say so, is the Tandoori Salmon: Filet of Salmon marinated in yogurt, coriander, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika and turmeric ($19.95). The salmon is meaty, tender and perfectly cooked.
Here’s a dish everybody loves, Murgh Korma: Boneless pieces of chicken in a rich cashew nut and almond cream sauce ($14.95). I love that they put a cherry on top of this.
Murgh Xacutti, a very mild Goan Chicken Curry cooked with coconut and aromatic spices and served with mint rice ($14.95), is an excellent choice for curry fans who want to go easy on the heat.
Saag Paneer: Puree of Spinach Cooked with Homemade Cottage Cheese ($12.95). You just gotta have it.
My favorite dish of the night was the Lamb Biryani: Aromatic rice with cubed Lamb ($15.95). I always love a good Biryani, and the Lamb in this dish was beyond tender and so flavorful. I would order this again.
An extensive selection of Indian flatbreads are priced at $2.95 – $4.95, or you can build your own Bread Basket, with your choice of 3 breads ($11.95) which we did, selecting the Garlic Naan, Alloo Paratha (filled with mashed potatoes) and, my favorite, Onion Kulcha — which I highly recommend. These fresh and hot from the oven breads are light, delightfully chewy and crispy.
After enjoying such an impressive repast, we hardly had room for Dessert, yet we were able to savor a few bites of the Malgova Pudding – described as a ‘Mango soufflé’ with a touch of Coconut ($4.95). This fruity dessert has a firm, gelatinous consistency, rather than the traditionally creaminess one expects with something called “pudding,” but it was quite light, tasty and refreshing.
Come to Aangan and enjoy the Indian Courtyard Dining experience! You’ll be glad you did!
Aangan is Located at 2701 Broadway on the Northwest Corner of West 103rd Street (Right at the #1 Train Stop). Visit them online at Aangan Dot Com or Phone 212-280-4100 for Reservations.