2018-02-07 / Restaurant of the Week

Tikka Indian Grill

I first tasted the gastronomic wonders of Tikka Indian Grill back in August, when I visited and reviewed their Kew Gardens location. I was happy to know that there is an Astoria location as well, right on 30th Avenue, and a Williamsburg location too.

On a frigid night in Astoria, I ducked into the warm, cozy Tikka Indian Grill, decorated with a vibrant, colorful photo of sari-clad women in a traditional food market on one wall, and movie posters from Bollywood on the other. Blue flasks of water and silver cups rest on tidy tables while the caring service is offered by Shah, the young, charming server.

The Astoria location features “Kati” rolls, which are a very popular Indian street food snack. They resemble thin burritos, rolled up and stuffed with delicious, savory fillings such as smoked, mashed eggplant, skewered, tender chicken, minced lamb, homemade spiced cheese, and sautéed cauliflower, to name a few. These hand-held kati rolls make a great appetizer or snack at just $4-$7 each. Other starters include traditional samosas, triangle-shaped pastry filled with savory potatoes and cauliflower, and pakora fritters made from onion, cauliflower, and mint chutney. Speaking of chutneys, the trio of these delectable sauces is brought to your table along with crispy lentil chips called pappadam. Classic mulligatawny soup or vegetable soup is another great way to warm up and whet your appetite for the delicious entrées ahead.

The hospitable owners, Julie and Syed Chowdhury, purchase only the finest ingredients and spices and the chef works his magic in the kitchen to create dishes for everyone made with chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetables. It’s important to note that there are several vegetarian and vegan options here, so you can eat to your stomach’s content. I tried a vegan dish called pumpkin kala chana, which I never would have thought was vegan. This delicious stew of diced, fresh, red pumpkin is cooked with tender chick peas, tomato, and mild seasonings, topped with confetti of coriander for an exotic treat. The same is true for aloo gobi, a stew of cauliflower and spiced potatoes ($11.95). Tofu mushroom jalfrezi combines tofu with onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers in a tangy sauce that tastes great over the fluffy basmati rice.

Meat and fish eaters can rejoice in eight different lamb dishes. My lamb kadai Mirchiwala was superbly tender, prepared in a rich brown sauce with onions and red and green bell peppers. It’s somewhat spicy, as I had requested, and there are plenty of mild dishes as well. Lamb tikka masala, for example is cooked in a creamy tomato sauce and is easy on the palate. I remember the chicken chops from the Kew Gardens site and marveled at their tenderness and juiciness, owing to the marinade and mild seasonings. Tandoori chicken is tenderized with yogurt, then cooked in the special clay Tandoor oven for supreme flavor and texture ($13.95).

If you like it hot and spicy, try the chicken or lamb vindaloo, and have plenty of tissues nearby for your running nose. Spicy shrimp with green chilies are also delicious, or go for mild shrimp with green mango and delicate herbs ($15.95). Coconut shrimp is another house favorite, where they are pan roasted in a uniquely delicious coconut and lemon sauce.

Soak it all up with fluffy basmati rice that comes with your entrée and order bread separately, as is the custom in Indian restaurants. All the breads are made on the spot and served hot from the tandoor. Choose among seven varieties of fluffy naan bread, such as plain, onion, cheese, garlic, and whole wheat. Paratha bread is a multi-layered bread served plain, or with potatoes or cauliflower. Wash it all down with cool, creamy mango lassi, a traditional yogurt drink or a soft drink. You are welcome to BYOB with no corking fee. The phones at Tikka Indian Grill ring off the hook with orders to go, though I recommend a date night here with your honey. Sweeten your tongue with rice pudding called kheer or sweet pastry soaked in syrup called gulab jamun.

Warm up with the coziness, flavors, and hospitality you’ll find at Tikka Indian Grill, Astoria, just a short walk from the N train.

34-14 30th Avenue
Astoria  718.255.1085

www.tikkaindiangrill.com

OUR OTHER LOCATIONS…
119-30 Metropolitan Ave., Kew Gardens  718.480.1307
185 Grand Street, Williamsburg  718.768.2262

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