Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Indian Food Bash in Northeast Baltimore

That's Neesha Patel holding a tray of Tandori chicken legs in the kitchen at Brian's house across the street from Mrs. Yi's and my house in Mayfield. They were but one of many scrumptious Northern Indian delights served at his bash there this past Saturday. In fact, the scene suggested to me that an Indian restaurant closer to our diverse northeast Baltimore neighborhood would do well for all concerned. Neesha's combined finesse as a chef, kitchen organizer, server and deliverer of Northern Indian staples follow thirteen years assisting her now retired parents. Before retiring, they were responsible for Maharaja in Greenbelt.

Five months ago, Brian's last foodcentric party was largely word of mouth. Attendees were some family, old friends, new friends, even friends of friends. Amidst guests previously unacquainted, early perfunctory conversations evolved into shared raves as Brian's ribs, shrimp, brussel sprouts, and macaroni hit the dining room table. It was like that this past Saturday, albeit with a very special Indian flavour.

Kicking it off were sublime samosas accompanied by crisp papadums with dipping bowls of cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney. The flavors were all derived by mixing individual spices together with a special blend of garam masala. Any first visual impressions suggesting the buffet table at a stereotypical Indian restaurant vanished as guests absorbed the texture, consistency, taste, and flavor that defined it all. What did Neesha do that was different to make everything so wonderful, I asked? Her response:"A little less heat."

Following the samosas and papadum, the main spread arrived of curries, Tandori chicken, dal (beans), and pilau (rice). The tray at top left features paneer (cheese). Next to it is chole (chick peas). The bowl in front of the chole holds chicken tiki masala. In the orange bowl above it is lamb rogan josh. On the plate immediately to the right of the rogan josh are tandori chicken legs direct from Brian's outdoor grill. Left to right in the far right trays are dal (beans) and pilau (rice). Again every dish, however straightforward, was prepared with a flawlessness and complimented by ooh,s and ahh's until and after consumed by well-fed guests.

A diversity of wine and other beverages contributed by guests brought only added to the Brian's enormous selection. After contemplating a pitcher of lassi, Mrs. Yi and I opted to bring a Pimm's Cup concoction. We fudged the recipe instructions and rendered something original that we now believe was better than had we'd not erred. It proved popular enough to make the list for future posts at Unique Culinary Adventures. Stay tuned.