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DHABA--Curry Hill Indian--plea for recommendations..

erica May 24, 2010 09:35 AM

I've read the reviews (on the whole, not very encouraging) here in preparation for dinner with a small group.

Are there any stand-out dishes on the a la carte menu? Please chime in with your favorites (not buffet items) and with any dishes to avoid.

Do they actually have a tandoor? If not, can any of the tandoori dishes be recommended?

Many thanks!


  1. Bob Martinez Jul 10, 2013 12:07 PM

    Since my last full post about this place was in 2010 I figure a quick update wouldn’t be amiss. In short – still very good.

    We were there a few weeks ago on a Saturday night. Dhaba is one of those places that uses OpenTable to reserve nice tables for regular customers. We were seated up front by the window where it’s quieter and roomier. A side benefit at this time of year is that ample natural light makes for good pictures. The dish descriptions that follow are cut and pasted from the menu.

    Batata Sev Pori - pori bread smothered with yogurt and chutnies.


    I order this because I want to make my GF happy. She loves it. My friends love it. Its charms are lost on me. I must be wrong.

    Pahadi Chicken Kebab - skewered chicken tenders in a spicy red masala marinade.


    Now this is more like it. The skin has a pleasant bit of crispyness and char while the inside is juicy and mildly spicy. Just wonderful.

    Chapli Kabob - pan grilled minced lamb with green chilies and onions


    Nice and lamby with a middle range of heat. Juicy too. There are two of them on the plate. Patty #2 is hiding under patty #1.

    Chicken Kali Mirch - a creamy yogurt peppercorn preparation.


    OK, OK, curries aren’t beautiful but a well made one is great. This baby has a heat level somewhere between a madras and a vindaloo while retaining a pleasant creaminess. Do yourself a favor – if you order this make sure you don’t order anything else that’s hot. One hot dish is great but two in the same meal can be a bit punishing. We’ve learned not to make that mistake.

    Seekh Kabob - spiced lamb rolls.


    These were on the milder side but then, they’re supposed to be. Unfortunately they were a little drier than they’re supposed to be. The spicing was just fine but it wouldn’t hurt if they took them off the grill 60 seconds earlier. Maybe 90. This was a dish that I ordered happily in London over the years. The New York versions are getting lots better but their bane is dryness.

    The supporting players –



    I look at places like Dhaba and its sister restaurants Chote Nawab and Malai Marke as the new baseline of Indian dining in New York. Any place that can’t match this standard ought to dry up and blow away. There’s no reason to settle for less. I’m hoping in the next few years that new restaurants will open which will take this cuisine to the next level.

    Yes, yes, I know. Tulsi. The thing is, London spoiled me rotten. I got used to paying Dhaba prices for Tulsi level food. I know it’s possible and I think it’s going to happen here.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Bob Martinez
      Steve Drucker Jul 10, 2013 02:22 PM

      Bob--Is the menu at lunch too, and do you know if the lunch menu quality matches that of dinner? I dearly love Tulsi, but it can be pricey indeed.

      1. re: Steve Drucker
        Bob Martinez Jul 10, 2013 02:42 PM

        Steve, I've never been to Dhaba at lunch but my GF has. She's a big fan of Dhaba as well and has said that the full dinner menu is available as well. I'll confirm it with her to make doubly sure and get back to you.

        1. re: Bob Martinez
          Bob Martinez Jul 11, 2013 06:36 AM

          My GF (and sugartoof) both confirm that the full menu is available at lunch.

          A warning - they do a good business at lunchtime but a lot of the customers are there for the buffet. People are constantly moving back and forth to the buffet table which creates a lot of traffic in the aisles. Some people might be bothered by this - others not at all.

        2. re: Steve Drucker
          sugartoof Jul 10, 2013 04:22 PM

          Unless something's changed in the last couple months, the full menu is available at lunch.

          I'm partial to the buffet.They're usually packed, while still putting out dishes in small quantities, so there's enough turn over so the quality is comparable to dinners. I have some criticisms of the buffet, but they're the same I have with the dinners.

        3. re: Bob Martinez
          JungMann Jul 11, 2013 06:06 AM

          Nice write up Steve. The chappli kabobs look very good. I remember being similarly disappointed with the dryness of the seekh kabob. It seems the dyed kabobs usually end up looking better than they taste. The kali mirch dish is a surprise. I would not have expected it to be spicy. I'll have to try your recommendation.

        4. c
          clembeauchamp Jun 13, 2010 10:24 AM

          Thank you everyone for encouraging me to try Dhaba. We went last night for the first time - with my in-laws no less! - and had a terrific meal. I think Saravanaas has lost its number one ranking in my book.

          81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

          2 Replies
          1. re: clembeauchamp
            excelsior Jun 16, 2010 04:31 PM

            I am sure the restaurant is good and the food excellent... and it gladdens my heart to see all you guys in search of good Indian food.. but I must as a CHer do my duty and inform you (without prejudice) that what you are eating at Dhaba is, largely, not Indian food.. but ...British... today, friends, British cuisine is, in the main, indian inspired (ask any Londoner or Brit from Britain).. we (I am Indian) know this from living there and from the names... there is, for instance no such thing as Chicken tikka Masala in India or an Indian kitchen.. but it was voted as the British NATIONAL dish in the late 1990s.

            I quite like it myself... when in lon dfon I go out for a "curry"but do think of it as British, authentic...so enjoy the British food, but I thought I ought to set the record straight... no condesencion, all CHers know that good food evolves and crosses borders.... and, on that note you should try the Indian caramel custard someday :-)

            1. re: excelsior
              thew Jun 16, 2010 04:52 PM

              dhaba has both anglo indian, and indian food, and bth are clearly delineated on the menu.

              most f their small dishes are very much what you would find on the streets of india, albeit in an upscale form.

          2. Steve R May 26, 2010 07:28 AM

            Two CH posters (me & erica) & 3 "civilians" who like to eat went to Dhaba last night and had a very nice meal. We settled in and ordered enough for a small army. This is my usual approach to an affordable restaurant where you're not sure what you're going to like &, therefore, over ordering allows for a couple of duds left over while still getting enough to eat. Well, since only one dish went unfinished (the goat... see below), I guess everyone was happy.

            Someone on CH noted that Dhaba seems to do very well with small dishes, so we ordered several to start:
            -Methi Pakora (fritters with fenugreek leaves): excellent
            -Kurkuri Bhindi (Strips of fried okra w/onions, lime, chili powder...): not as good as Devi's okra (by a long shot) & a smallish amount to boot, but more than good enough to order again
            -Gobi Manchurian (Cauliflower w/"tangy" sauce): okay, but Devi really has me spoiled on this so ehh
            -Batata Sev Pori (chaat masala w/yogurt and chutneys stuffed in little puri bread cups): we loved this dish (had it last time as well)

            Mains were substantial. We had:
            -Chicken tikka masala (cream sauce, ordered it mild in case everything else was too spicy for my wife): It was very nicely done, with a little kick and plenty of good white meat chicken
            -Bhuna Lamb Mirchwala (ordered medium/spicy, w/thick onion tomato sauce, garlic and chiles): Bob Martinez loves this & recommended it... I can see why. Lots of tasty, non greasy lamb chunks in a very flavorful sauce. Good kick.
            -Kadai Goat (onions, bell peppers, ginger and dried fenugreek leaves): okay, so my ordering of Goat Rogan Josh last time didnt make it... so I tried another goat dish. ehh. Lots of bone, greasy meat and, let's face it, it's goat.
            -Dhaba Daal Fry (yellow lentils, cumin and fresh coriander): served as an entree, this was one of the tastier daals I've had (and I've had me some daals).
            -Saag Paneer (spinach puree and homemade cheese): I wanted to get fancy and order the spinach w/mustard greens and ginger, but the waiter steered me back to this staple. I understand why... they do better homemade cheese (firmer, more flavorful) than most places. I really liked this. Again, served as a main (and charged as one).... worth it.

            "Sides", etc with dinner:
            -Gobhi Paratha (spiced cauliflower within the bread... served with raita and pickles): very nice
            -Methi Paratha (fenugreek leaves inside paratha): nice as well
            -Boondi Raita (they add "crunchies" and cumin to the raita): I love raita
            -Shalgam & Gajjar Achar (asst. pickles, carrots, turnips): I might have been the only one eating this throughout dinner, but I loved it
            -a couple of bowls of rice, sized large enough to last throughout and still have some leftover

            We had glasses of white wine (well my wife did... she said they were ok) and lots of large mugs of Kingfisher. We paid $44pp, including large tip. All in all, a place I wouldnt hesitate to return to and will.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Steve R
              Bob Martinez May 26, 2010 08:16 AM

              As usual, nice write up Steve. This place is in our regular rotation and it's been consistently good to very good. We were there a couple of weeks ago.

              Amritsari Aloo Tikki Chaat - Potato patties, vatana, onions, yogurt, two chutnies


              A pleasant dish. (My girlfriend took pity on me and ordered this because I am the only person in North America who doesn't love the Batata Sev Pori, her usual starter.) While I liked this better than the Batata Sev Pori I'm coming to think that chaats aren't for me.

              Garlic Spinach - Crispy spinach, peppercorns, soy sauce, cumin flavor


              Crispy and subtly spiced. This is just a wonderful dish.

              Achari Murgh - Pickling spices, fresh coriander, garlic, onion seeds


              It looks innocent, doesn't it? Don't believe it. There's plenty of heat here, believe me. I really liked this but I think this would probably work better split among a number of people or paired with a milder entree. (The actual potion is larger. We impatiently loaded our plates before snapping the picture.


              Dhaba Chili Chicken - Onions, bell peppers, green chilis, soy flavor


              Another very hot dish. It's one of my favorites but we made the mistake of ordering 2 hot mains. If one of them had been mild it would have made for a more balanced meal.

              Chili Onion Naan


              Deceptively pretty and plenty spicy. We compounded our mistake. A bit of this would have been fine with some mild mains but since both our mains were spicy this just added to the fire. Their regular garlic naan is first rate and would have been a better choice.

              We've worked out a wine strategy at Dhaba. There regular list is unexciting at best but they offer a prosecco by the glass for around $7. If you ask nicely they'll sell you a whole bottle for around $34. It works perfectly with strongly spiced food.

              1. re: Steve R
                thew May 26, 2010 10:05 AM

                i think they have toned down the spice on the Kurkuri Bhindi . last time i had it it wasn't s good as i'd remembered - less heat, and less seasoning overall. still good though

                1. re: Steve R
                  erica May 26, 2010 12:48 PM

                  I concur! And I had been more than a bit leery, as is obvious by my opening post. And since Steve was so dilligent about taking notes and remembering the details, as evidenced above, the rest of us could concentrate only on enjoying the excellent food. I especially liked the chaat-style appetizers. The only dish I did not care for was the goat which was, as Steve mentioned, full of splintery bones. Mains were on the small side, but large enough for each of the five diners at the table to have a decent-size taste. We also had a fabulous cheese paratha; I thought the breads were outstanding! The place was packed and there was a line of people waiting to be seated when we left, about 9pm.

                  1. re: Steve R
                    ExFlexitarian May 26, 2010 01:21 PM

                    Nice write-up Steve. I've been meaning to come back to Dhaba for a really long time, and this is just the little push I need. :)

                  2. m
                    Mr Porkchop May 25, 2010 02:06 PM

                    This is one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Manhattan.

                    1. JungMann May 25, 2010 06:59 AM

                      Bhel puri and papri chaat are very good starters. Poori and parathas have mixed results, but naan is standard and fine. Goat rogan josh is good; biryanis are also deeply satisfying. Vindaloo was appropriately spicy, but full of flavor.

                      1. f
                        FrankieLymon May 24, 2010 01:23 PM

                        try the kadai goat. paneer kali mirchi. chili onion naan. I found the Bhuna Lamb mirchwala underwhelming

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: FrankieLymon
                          ESNY May 24, 2010 01:46 PM

                          Love the paneer kali mirch. Probably order it 90% of the time i'm there.

                          I also like the lamb or goat biryani but i haven't had it many other places so I couldn't tell you how good it is compared to other places but I like the dhaba rendition.

                        2. Bob Martinez May 24, 2010 01:01 PM

                          You're listening to the wrong people - Dhaba is very good. A few recommendations - the seekh kabob, chili chicken, Bhuna Lamb mirchwala, butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, methi chicken, the chicken kali mirch, and the batata sev puri.

                          Everything I mentioned is from the a la carte menu - I *never* eat buffets. (How many poor reports of buffet menus at dozens of restaurants have you read about over the years? I don't care if it's cheap - I figure it's worth if to spend a little more and get fresh food rather than last night's reheated leftovers.)

                          I haven't had any of the tandoori dishes but considering the overall level of the other dishes I'd expect them to be good as well. If there are dishes that appeal to you should just go ahead and order them.

                          PS - The breads are great too.

                          1. thew May 24, 2010 09:46 AM

                            i happen to like Dhaba a great deal.

                            i've been a few times. their curries are tasty, but they street food/small plates/appetizers are where they shine. i've made full meals of these.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: thew
                              erica May 24, 2010 11:11 AM

                              This is very good to know! Let me know if you (or others) have any specific dishes to recommend..

                              1. re: erica
                                thew May 24, 2010 02:00 PM

                                some dishes i like (oh the delight of cut and paste):

                                METHI PAKORA
                                Fresh fenugreek leaves fritters

                                KURKURI BHINDI
                                Crunchy okra, red onions, lime, chaat masala, chili powder

                                METHI PARATHA
                                Fresh fenugreek leave

                                GOAN FISH CURRY*
                                Coconut, tomatoes, dry red chilies, malt vinegar

                                SWEET CORN
                                Dry red chilies, garlic, soy sauce

                                there's more , but that's what popped in one pass on the menu

                                here in my review on yelp, after my 1st visit:


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