I love curry. No, seriously, I love curry. I honestly think it might have some of the same chemical properties as crack, because I literally get the feeling that I am addicted to it. Unfortunately, it is so unique and specific in flavor that when the curry craving hits, there is nothing else that can satisfy it. This is a problem living in Miami, because although there is an abundance of fabulous Latin American “cafeterias,” there is quite a shortage of good Indian restaurants. Thus, I usually resort to cooking my own curried chickpeas at home to get my fix (authentic recipe courtesy of my former Indian neighbor!).
But tonight I finally had the opportunity to try a little Indian restaurant located in Coconut Grove, called Bombay Darbar. I’ve walked past this little hole-in-the-wall spot almost every day for the past three years, yet have never been. And although the couple of tables located outside of the restaurant are always full, they don’t really grab your attention. However, after recently hearing several great reviews about the food, I decided that it was finally time to go and check it out! And I am so glad that I did, because the food was hands down the best Indian cuisine that I have ever had!! I went with low expectations and was absolutely blown away by the quality of the food, the cleanliness of the restaurant, and the accommodating service (which is often infrequent at Indian restaurants).
To start, we got an order of Garlic Naan, which is Indian flatbread made in a clay oven, topped with cilantro, garlic, and drizzling of olive oil. The naan was warm, soft, and simply incredible! The garlic flavor was a bit intense, but I’d breathe fire and sacrifice kissing any day to enjoy this stuff! It was accompanied by Mint Chutney and Tamarind Sauce for dipping, but I also recommend ordering a side of Riata, which is sauce made with yogurt, cucumber, tomato, cilantro, and boiled potato. Many Indian restaurants will give you this for free, but there is a $3.25 charge here…typical Miami.
Next, we ordered the Vegetable Samosas, which are crispy fried pastries stuffed with curried-seasoned potatoes and green peas. The appetizer came with two samosas, and a generous serving tamarind sauce. The flavors were awesome and the samosas were surprisingly light. They tend to be rich and heavy because of the oil used for frying and the starch from the potatoes, but these felt rather light and delicate to my surprise. Most of the oil had been absorbed and the potatoes seemed whipped rather than dense. If you do choose to order the riata, it will also taste fabulous on these samosas!
For the main course, we ordered two different entrees and one side dish. We got the Tandoori Chicken Tikka, which is succulent pieces of marinated boneless chicken breast grilled in a clay oven and served over sautéed onions. This is a very traditional form of Indian cooking produced by a high temperature clay oven (known as a Tandoor), which makes the meat crispy on the exterior while keeping the interior succulent and juicy. The meat takes on a very reddish orange hue, due to the tumeric and cayenne pepper, which are used to season the meat in addition to yogurt marinade. I have tasted a lot of different Chicken Tandoori (as it is the most common thing to order at an Indian restaurant), but this was undoubtedly the best! It came out piping hot, served on a sizzling iron skillet over a bed of sautéed onions.
Next, we dug into the Chicken Tikka Masala, which is boneless chicken breast cooked in a creamy tomato sauce, with onions and bell pepper served with a side of basmati rice. Just like the Tandoori Chicken Tikka, this too was incredibly delicious. The cream in the sauce cut down on the acidity of the tomato and the curry and spices used had the perfect balance of spicy and sweet.
As an accompaniment to our chicken entrees we also had an order of Channa Masala, which is garbanzo beans cooked in gravy with onions, tomato, ginger, garlic, and traditional Indian spices served with basmati rice (Photographed at top!). These are very similar to the chickpeas that I make at home, except these were obviously better and didn’t stink up my house.
I would definitely recommend Bombay Darbar, and will be going back myself….a lot!