chowdown at Tasty Curry [San Francisco]
This Chowdown was part of the Curry Dive series. I had sampled Tasty Curry the week before the chowdown. I'm commenting on two items: naan and bengan bharta. Other hounds, please let the rest of Chowdom know your opinions!
In my pre-chowdown sampling, I ordered naan, bengan bharta and chicken tika masala. The naan was incredible - slightly scorched, smokey in smell.
At the chowdown, however, the naan was initially very different. It seemed on par with naan you buy at the grocery and heat up in your oven. Like it had never been near a tandoor. I was really disappointed - I had trumpeted Tasty Curry's naan as a naan of all naans.
We ordered several more naans as the dinner progressed. Strangely, this second order was the true naan - slightly scorched and smokey. By that time, though, most hounds were near the end of their meals.
What happened? Did the naan master take a break? Next time, I'll send back the naan if it isn't up to what I know Tasty Curry can do with their tandoor.
The eggplant dish, bengan bharta, was excellent as it was in my sampling. Chunky and flavorful, rather than pureed, with some spice and heat. Note that my sampling was a to-go order and Tasty Curry carefully wrapped up the cardboard take out boxes with plastic wrap to avoid spills. Very appropriate, and a extra step to help their customers.
My conclusion is to go for the vegetable dishes and the naan, which can be excellent. But don't settle for a sub par naan!
At the end of our chowdown, Melanie offered us Paan, a digestive. It was shredded coconut, cardamon, other spices, with something sweet -all wrapped in a green leaf. With instructions to chew and the option of ingesting or spitting, I discovered that I really liked this sensation and munched and swallowed in total delight.
Another unusual offering was the Vegetarian Samosa - the size of a softball. Is it regional to be made supersized or just in America? Alone, this would be an ample lunch.
Many thanks to Leslie for another chowdown with the very charming hounds!
IMHO, the lentils were the best thing about the meal. The spice mixture heavy on mustard seed, which the chef utilizes in the base of almost every dish, complemented the lentils quite nicely.
It was fun to see everyone and I look forward to the next curry-diving event.
Another fun curry dive. I liked the achaar murgh the best (full disclosure: it's my favorite Indian dish overall) although I wished it had a bit more heat. It had a nice thickness to the sauce blanketing the chicken, and there were discernable bits of pickled lemon and chunks of cardamom in the sauce. In general, I think the food at this place was lacking in heat -- I was jonesin' for my usual spice high!
I agree that the chicken achaar was the best of the meat dishes. The sauce was complex, if not that spicy hot. Surprisingly, the chicken pieces were cut from white meat causing them to be somewhat dry.
Quick comments on the other dishes -
Maybe the tandoor troubles that affected our first order of naan also messed up the seekh kabab. Made from ground beef, the seasoning was okay, but the meat was inadequately browned/charred yet overcooked and dried out. The tandoori lamb chops were artificially tenderized.
The lamb with bitter melon was decent, but not memorable. We supersized the fish biryani with a $2 supplement, which only added insult to injury. I think this was the worst dish - cooked in advance and reheated chunks of tough dry fish mingled with mushy rice and minimal seasonings.
As Elise H recommends, the vegetable dishes seemed more reliable here.
I guess I'm supposed to provide a list of beers opened, but I didn't write it down so I'll do my best from memory.
- Rogue Imperial Pilsner
- Lagunitas IPA
- Chimay (red and blue)
- Lindeman's Framboise lambic
- More?... correct me if I forgot any
All nice beers. I thought the Orval would go well with Indian food, but I think I was wrong (try it instead with some camembert). The Delirium continues to do well with Indian food (it was one of my favorites at Pakwan). The Framboise tasted really sweet to me; I preferred the peche from last time, or better yet, the Cassis.
I was mostly disappointed with the food. The daal that solly reported on really was the best dish, and was also the spiciest. The first batch of naans really did taste like they came out of a bag. But the second batch I liked a lot: a good sheen of butter and a very unusual, fluffy, elastic texture in the middle.
Yes, another nice line-up of beers, thanks all! I liked the Framboise better than the previous Peche. It does have a sweeter impression, but I guess I like that to balance the aspirin-sourness of the lambic. There is that weird gap between the end of the raspberry fruit and when the eccentric tart aftertaste kicks in.
We didn't get a chance to try the gulab jamun - sold out. But we did get a couple orders of the kheer. While some may not like that much rosewater, I thought the flavor was decent and appreciated the richness. However, I didn't like the overpulverized texture.
A better dessert was the lovely confection that Shalini Bhalla made. I'm glad I brought it along to share. I don't know what it's called or what it's made of but the taste and texture reminds me of a mix between marzipan and the filling in Mounds bars with a hint of exotic spices. Very rich but not as sugary sweet as other Indian sweets.
re: Melanie Wong
Glad you liked the sweet Melanie. It is called "Doce de Grao". It comes from the western beach state of Goa which was ruled by the Portuguese for over 350 years, hence the name. It is made of jaggery, fresh grated coconut and chana dal (grao). That is the simplest version of the sweet. I learned making it with a little almond, ghee and ground cardamom added in. So you pretty much nailed the flavors :-)
I was rather disappointed with the food at Tasty Curry. The only two dishes I would order again were the Achar Murgh and the Karela Ghost (bitter melon with lamb). The fish biryani was particularly bad (apologies for suggesting that we order it), with dry overcooked deep fried pieces of fish and way too many fried onions.
Overall, it was a fun evening, and we had very good beers, but I don't plan on eating there again.