Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Shahi Tandoor

Chicken Tikka

'Twas a dark, cold, rainy evening. We were wet, hungry and just wanted to get indoors, get dinner and get home. It was one of those "Fine, we're sick of all the usual restaurants, so lets just try this new place" moments. I have to admit, I was skeptical when we stepped into Shahi Tandoor that first time, but I am glad that that's where we ended up because that first dinner was, and every meal since has been, pleasant and enjoyable.

The first surprise was that we were offered hot towels while we perused the menu. Next, I noticed that their mains were priced about $5 - $10 less than their counterparts at other Dunedin Indian restaurants. At this point, the cynic in me (who rules most of the time) was primed to expect the food to be mediocre because it (the cynic) cannot believe that you can effortlessly hit the trifecta, out of the blue like this, on George Street, in little ol' Dunedin. But hit it it did - the food was excellent, the prices were very, very reasonable and the waitstaff were friendly and helpful. The one thing that was distinctly different was the juiciness of the proteins in the curries. Now, this isn't usually a sticking point when it comes to curries since the amount of sauce more than compensates for any apparently overcooked meat or fish. The pieces of fish and meat in these curries, however, were immediately noticeably far tenderer, tastier and juicier than the protein contents of any other Indian curry that I've had in town. Clearly, I didn't know what I had been missing.

I've since recommended Shahi Tandoor to anyone who asked and returned with friends (only so I can take pictures of their food and taste more dishes in one sitting!) and they too have raved about the food. 

Vegetable Shahi Kebab

Mix Vegetarian Platter for Two: Liked the crispy, but still tender and moist, onion bhaji (with discernable chunks of onion). Don't remember much of the samosa, vegetable seekh kebab or potato pakoda, but the mint sauce was bland and watery.

Chicken Tikka: Beautifully charred, juicy chicken covered in a lovely, tasty, mild spice paste. Delicious and one of the best chicken tikkas I've had anywhere.

Vegetable Shahi Kebab: I think the others liked it, but it wasn't memorable for me.

Goan Fish Curry

Garlic Prawn: Great, complex, garlic flavoured curry. Incredibly tasty. Only gripe would be that if you are going to leave the tails on the prawns, they have to be larger prawns (at least two inches long). 

Goan Fish Curry: Excellent curry with lovely depth and beautifully cooked, tender juicy pieces of fish. 

Kadhai Paneer: Absolutely delicious. As good as the best kadhai curry that I've had. This was someone else's dish and as I am not always in the mood for cheese, I didn't try any paneer.

Lamb Vindaloo & Khadai Paneer

Lamb Vindaloo: I never liked vindaloo before, but this was exceptionally good and has changed my mind. Like the other aforementioned curries, this too had the complexity and depth that its counterparts have lacked.

Chicken Saagwala & Palak Paneer: Both were delicious, thick, beautifully flavoured spinach curries. The chicken was so perfectly cooked that there were still little streams of clear juice dribbling through the chicken as you bit or cut into them.

Chicken Patiala: A spinach based chicken curry wrapped in an omelette and covered in another tomato based (I think) curry. Very unusual but scrumptious nonetheless. It was such a large dish that I could barely finish it, even with help. This is probably unrelated but 'Patiala' sounds a little like 'Pattaya' which is the name of another Asian dish where fried rice is served wrapped in an omelette

Garlic Naan: Deliciously loaded with chopped garlic for that great, nutty, irresistible garlicky goodness. Perfect naan texture, weight and feel. This may sound silly but I love the texture and feeling of tearing a good piece of naan with my hands. Curiously, the surface and weight of a naan's reminds me of the feel of leather, but of course naan is soft, tender and good to eat and leather is not.

Chicken Saagwala

Shahi Tandoor
351 George Street
Dunedin 9016

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