Antigua, GT: Pushkar Indian Cuisine – the best tandori chicken I have ever had
How good can Indian food be in Guatemala? Pushkar served one of the best kabobs I’ve ever had in my life.
This seems consistent across all cuisines in Guatemala. I have rarely had a bad kabob in any type of restaurant. However, Pushkar was the absolute best.
Pushkar shares the kitchen with Culinaria, a gourmet grocery, wine shop and café/deli. The chefs do an equally good job here. There is the choice of sitting in Pushkar’s restaurant or the outdoor garden at Culinaria. More about Culinaria in this link
While it doesn’t stray too far from Indian food, if this restaurant was in my hometown of SF, CA, I’d classify it as Cal-Indian … Indian food but more upscale and slightly modernized.
In an interview prior to opening in 2008, the owner states
“I think what I offer is more Anglo-Indian. The English bastarized (not a swear word) the Indian cuisine to suit their own taste. So that's kind of where my food comes from. I try to keep it simple but in turn give it a higher quality. It's not what a traditional Indian would cook at home. “
In addition to the usual Indian dishes there are also a few Indian-inspired items such as the aubergine burger which is two thick slices of eggplant filled with curried potato, sweet chile sauce, fresh cilantro, yogurt and melted mozzarella.
That interview stated they would try to do regional dishes. The current the online menu has Goan fish fry listed.
Here's what I had rated from A+ to F -
A - … Green tandori chicken
B - …. Chubby chips and curry sauce
C …... Puleo rice
B - …. Limonada
Service: B - … Very good
Ambiance: B - … Very good
Restaurant record with more info such as address, phone, hours and menu
Flickr photostream with more pictures
Details in the first reply.
I wasn’t nearly as taken with Pushkar as rworange. Perhaps I should just have ordered the tandoori chicken as recommended, but I can’t try a new Indian restaurant without having the pork vindaloo if it’s on offer and it was. I ordered the vindaloo, which came with basmati rice topped with fried onions, the pulao, and an order of plain naan. I probably wouldn’t have ordered the pulao if I’d realized that all curries were served with rice, which was clearly stated on the menu. In English, no less.
The menu says the vindaloo is “medium hot” and I asked for it “muy picante.” The muy picante was just barely spicy; I can’t imagine how tepid it would have been if I had ordered it as usually served. There was more meat in the vindaloo than appears in the photo; a fairly generous single portion. And the meat was clean and tender. But the sauce was just plain weird. I tasted barely any ginger, very little garlic, certainly no cumin. Not sure what was in it, but if I had to guess, I’d guess it was loaded with Worcestershire sauce. Huh? I kept thinking it was a Guatemalan adaptation of a British adaptation of a Goan dish. It was editble, but it was unlike any vindaloo I’ve ever had and I’ve had quite a few.
The accompanying basmati rice was dry and flavorless, although the fried onions were a nice touch.
The pulao was inedible. I know that there are often raisins in a pulao, but I don’t like them; if the menu had mentioned it had raisins in it I would have steered clear. They obviously took their regular basmati rice and fried it up with cinnamon, bay leaves, frozen peas, and sliced almonds. If it had cardamom in it, I couldn’t taste it. The peas were barely cooked, the cinnamon and bay added no additional flavor, and the rice was even drier than the basmati with onions. I tasted it and left the rest on the table.
The best dish was the plain naan (they also have a garlic naan). They say it’s homemade, and it tasted like it with a nice char on the bottom, a painting of ghee, and topped with cilantro. A very good rendition indeed.
I may go back and try the tandoori chicken since the restaurant is right around the corner from my apartment. But if it weren’t for rworange’s rave about that one dish, I wouldn’t be going back.
It seems that rice is not their thing ... which is odd in that rice in general in Guatemala usually wonderful. Hope my tandoori kebabs weren't a fluke. At any rate, you can order off of both menus at the same time. Any info about whether the rumor about Culinaria closing is true?
I didn't recall reading about Culinaria closing and only noticed it when I came back to write my report so I didn't think to ask. Gotta say, though, I was the only customer at Pushkar the entire time I was there and there couldn't have been many, if any, in Culinaria. Maybe Monday is just a slow night. Didn't see anyone in Caffe Opera as I walked past, either.
I think the good chef left Cafe Opera, but again it is based on the "Your man in Antigua" website. In my many weeks in Antigua I can't think of one restaurant that hasn't been mainly empty. The YMIA website says the same. I hope business picks up for everyone for Holy Week. Hector's is supposed to be busy at night, but I only go in the afternoon when there is only usually one other table occupied ... but at Hector's I suppose that is a crowd.
Supposedly the new Fusion 2 is packed ... could just be because it is the new place in town.
Across from La Merced there is supposed to be a good comedor according to a Guatemalan friend. You order at the counter of what looks like a store, they lift the counter and there is a garden restaurant in back. Haven't tried it yet.
Some interesting looking stuff this month
Hotel Soleil is having an Uruguayan barbecue.
Ubi's sushi is celebrating its one year anniversary on April 7th.
GREEN TANDORI CHICKEN: A - … Way above average
This is boneless chicken marinated in yogurt, fresh cilantro and tandori spices served with a yogurt dip. The kabobs were nicely grilled on the outside and juicy and tender inside. The fabulous green marinade flavored with cilantro and other spices was enhanced by a similarly spiced yogurt dip.
CHUBBY CHIPS AND CURRY SAUCE: B - … Very good
While there was nothing exceptional about them, these were pleasant enough. The flavor was good. They were nicely fried and greaseless. The not-overly-spicy dish of curry sauce on the side was fine, but I think I would have preferred catsup. For me, it didn’t add anything to the fries.
PULEO RICE: C … Average
This was one of the main reasons I ate here. The menu describes it as follows: Basmati rice seasoned with cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon and black peppercorns. It sounded interesting. It didn’t deliver. The spices were too subtle to make up for the dry-ish texture of the rice. It was topped with some crunchy stuff. It was only ok.
LIMONADA: B - … Very good
Guatemala excels at lemonade and orangeade. This was a good example, freshly squeezed with a nice balance of tart to sweet.
SERVICE: B - … Very good
The same servers take care of both Culinaria and Pushkar. The service is timely and helpful.
AMBIANCE: B - … Very good
This was nicer than most small Indian restaurants in the US.
The plating was elegant and classic with white dinnerware of various geometric shapes, as the palate for the beautifully arranged food.
The small restaurant had a coffee shop feel to it with its orange seats and orange patchwork banquets lining the walls. White tablecloths and small vases of fresh flowers on each table dressed it up. It wasn’t fancy, but nice. Given the choice of the beautiful outside area, I’d probably choose that next time. The indoor restaurant would be good on a cold and/or rainy day.
The prices were good, but I’d caution that my portions were upscale US restaurant small. This was exactly what I wanted for this particular lunch, but given the portion size, the price here could border on $$$.
While not a destination restaurant, IMO, this restaurant would be high on my restaurant list if I go back to the nearby school. I hope someday to be able to try the thali.
Looking forward to trying this. Didn't even know there was an Indian restaurant in Antigua.
Hadn't been paying attention before, but now that I am, I'm finding the maps in your restaurant record links a riot. This one takes you to the Caribbean island of Antigua. Haven't bothered to check them all out, but I'm guessing Antigua, Sacatapequez, is off the map, so to speak.
There's a new Indian joint in Antigua, Abbasai
What I like about Pushkar. they are using quality ingredients like Culinaria. I hope it is not true, but the talk on one website is that Culinaria might be closing. Which means that would probably be the same for Pushkar. Sixth Avenue is undergoing major changes. Da Vinci is moving, though unless they change the menu, that's no loss. They are going to be across the street from Chez Christophe near Central Park.
None of the maps in my restaurant records are correct for Antigua.
Whatever the interface here is with Google maps, it doesn't work for this city. I found a way to bypass the software totally rejecting the street address. Email and I'll tell you how that works. Quite frankly I'm afraid to note it on this site as it might get "fixed" and I'll be back at square one with all the addresses rejecting. Reporting the original problem with addresses would have been ignored, so there was no point to it.