Tuesday, April 13, 2010

King of Tandoor, Brooklyn

They don't call him the King for nothing:

I went to King of Tandoor, a newish North Indian restaurant, in the very Caribbean neighborhood of Prospect Heights which I stayed in and used as a kind of decompression chamber just before my descent into Jamaica. As it was, the place was not making any concessions to the thrifty Carribeans or time-pressed Muslim cab drivers who frequent the other spots on their block: there were no steam trays or sneeze guards visible, no chicken wing specials, no "Tropical Rhythms" juices being offered.
The place is just a direct port from India of the kind of pseudo-fancy Punjabi restaurant that upper-middle class Indians go to on a Friday night. They have the too-numerous, over-eager waitstaff clad in ill-fitting tuxedos, the wonderful homemade chutneys and pickles served with papadams to start, the DVD of Hindi romantic musical comedy playing in the background. Just as it would in India, my request to slightly modify a non-veg thali took multiple attempts and clarifications, worried looks, other servers being called over, and finally a managerial executive stamp of approval before it could go to the kitchen. The thali was not super cheap, something like 12 or 14 dollars, and it took a bit of time to come out, but this was a good sign: they were actually cooking things to order.
When it came out, the portion was huge and the Tandoori chicken was royal. Like the best Tandoori chicken it was slightly charred on the outside and so tender on the inside that it seemed slightly undercooked. This texture is slightly disturbing at first and then blissfully sensual when your mind reconciles the fact that your are in no way risking salmonella by enjoying it. It's just the yogurt and citrus that have gone to work enzymatically on the chicken flesh and left it all limp and tender like raw veal. And as you can see in the photo, the cooks also put the bird through the ritualistic red food-coloring bath, which to me needs about as much explanation or over-examination as the yearly colored-powder fights in the streets of India at Holi- it just kind of looks cool.
Big ups to the King!

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