POSTED ON JUNE 27, 2007:
Fit for a Rajah
What a treasure, this little Indian Corner Restaurant. A friend at UTW suggested I check it out. It's rare that I have an occasion to travel to 61st and Garnett, but now I have found a reason to head east and sample a little bit of India in this part of the city, in a restaurant that has some of the best hospitality around.
Walking in on this particular week night, Indian Corner had no one dining, but as my friend and I dined, tables were filling up. We were greeted warmly and presented a menu. It became apparent that this is definitely a family-owned and operated restaurant, for through our dinner that evening, it appeared that the matriarch and patriarch of the family were checking things out, making sure we were pleased with our dinners.
All day, breakfast items are served--dishes such as Bread Omelet and Paratha Omelet and selections of whole-wheat stuffed bread, called Keema Paratha (whole-wheat bread stuffed with cooked ground beef and spice) and Gobi Paratha (whole-wheat bread stuffed with cauliflower, onion, spices and pan fried).
Appetizers and Chaat/Snacks are where our eyes landed first. ("Chaat" is a broad term that encompasses many different dishes.) I enjoyed reading the names of the various dishes; I especially enjoyed the English description that accompanied each. We asked our server for recommendations--under the Chaat/Snacks, he suggested the Aloo Tikki ($3.99) and the Dahi Puri ($3.99).
Aloo Tikki are fried potato patties spiced with green chili and onion, and served with sweet and spicy chutney. These are two delectable patties packed with rich flavors. The chilies add a mild kick, while the onion provides a savory seasoning to the potatoes.
The Dahi Puri is crisp Puri (unleavened bread) stuffed with onion, potato, garbanzo beans, yogurt and a sweet and spicy tamarind chutney. (Tamarind chutney has such things as chili powder, cumin, dates, tamarind (Indian date, used as a spice) and jaggery (unrefined sugar). Very good for dipping!
Vegetable, Chicken, Mutton, Beef and Seafood Entrees are the main categories for dinner, along with Biryani--a multi-dimensional disch which is made with a long-grained rice, such as Basmati, and flavored with exotic spices (especially saffron) and layered with lamb, chicken, fish or vegetables, cooked in a thick gravy. The pot in which this is prepared is then covered and the lid is "sealed on" with dough and the biryani is cooked on a low flame.
I selected a dish from the Chicken Entrees--the Chicken Vindaloo ($8.99)--and my friend chose the Mutton Saag ($9.99).
The Vindaloo is a traditional, over-the-top spicy boneless chicken cooked with tomato, onion, and garlic and served with Basmati rice. This dish is filled with spices which blend together to create a sauce rich with flavor. Often, ingredients include cumin, red chilies, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seed, brown sugar, onions, coriander seeds, turmeric and more. What can top a flavor blended with these spices?
My friend's mutton was just as flavorful and had a deep green color most memorable. Spiced mutton is cooked with fresh spinach and spices. For this dish, spinach leaves are boiled down and then ground to a fine paste. Onion is ground to a paste then fried until golden brown. Next, ginger and garlic pastes are added and fried for 2-3 minutes.
Then, to the mutton pieces are added chili powder, khus khus (poppy seeds), salt and then browned. After that, cumin and coriander, tomato powder, tomato puree and the ground spinach are added. This is simmered until the mutton is tender. Again, the explosion of flavors was phenomenal.
With both meals, we had a ample supply of Naan, round flatbread.
Some of the dishes at Indian Corner sound fabulous--Chicken Shahi Korma, boneless chicken cooked in cream and mild Indian spices; Butter Chicken, chicken cooked in thick butter sauce and spice; Beef Jalferji, beef marinated with fresh ground spices and sautéed with tomato, onion and bell pepper and Shahi Paneer, homemade cheese sautéed in creamy tomato sauce, onion garlic and spices.
I hear the desserts are great as well--Mango Kulfi, Indian ice cream with pistachios and almonds then topped with mangoes; Gulab Jamun, sweet pastry ball served warm in a honey syrup and Kheer Badami, traditional Indian rice pudding made with mild, raisins and nuts.
Indian Corner Restaurant
6122 S. Garnett Rd. Ste E
Sun.-Sat. 9am-2pm, 5pm-9pm
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