17 Nov It’s All About Flavor At Cardamom Restaurant
If you like flavor and spice, Cardamom is for you. LA’s newest Indian Restaurant opened last month and is already getting noticed by the neighborhood. In the location formally home to India’s Oven, business partners, and brothers-in-law, Nasir Syed and Badrul Chowdhury, have created a restaurant that represents all of the regions of India.
Nasir actually worked at India’s Oven when he first arrived in the US. So it is a perfect circle that he has come back here to open his own spot. But to do so, Nair and his brother-in-law decided to bring their uncle to Los Angeles to help. A successful restaurateur in London who had 32 locations at one point, Chef Manju Choudhury came to LA and spent 2 months creating the menu and training the staff.
The key to Cardamom is that everything is fresh….and I mean everything. Chutneys are made daily. Even the spices are ground daily. And, the Tandoor oven is powered by charcoal, not gas, resulting in richer, smokier flavors. All of these things come through in the taste and will keep you coming back for more.
The first thing on the table when you sit down is a trio of Tamarind Chutney, Mango and Onion Chutney and Mint Yogurt. Be careful because you may find you dipping your finger into the chutneys once you finish the Papad (the thin, crisp, baked/fried Indian cracker).
The Tuk Tuk Platter offers a sampling of 3 of the 4 vegetarian appetizers –
- Onion Piaza (deep fried shredded onions in paprika lentil batter)
- Singara (Punjabi style vegetable parcels in crisp pastry served with date and tamarind chutney)
- Chutneywala Paneer (mini steaks of cottage cheese with pickling spices grilled in Tandoor served with coriander and mint chutney) – Even if you don’t order the Tuk Tuk platter, do not miss the Chutneywala Paneer.
There are also seafood, chicken, lamb and beef appetizers and we ordered the classic samosa, a special minced lamb parcel in crisp pastry served with date and tamarind chutney.
Before we moved into the main dishes, we selected wines from the impressive wine list filled with fresh whites and light reds that will actually pair with the spicy dishes.
For main dishes, with so many choices ranging from chicken to lamb to seafood, we decided to go with one item from each section.
Hyderabadi Murgh Tikka Masala – diced chicken Tikka tossed in Hyderabadi spices cooked in creamy tomato sauce. Another finger-licking sauce, I found myself pouring it over my rice and dipping my naan into it.
Jhinga Patia – tiger prawns cooked in a zesty hot and sour sauce in Parsi
Gosht Madhurrai – Cardamom’s own version of the chilli lamb prepared with tender lamb cooked in Tandoor then simmered in tomato and chilli sauce. This dish is spciy and not for the fainthearted.
Saag Paneer – homemade cottage cheese cooked in cream and baby spinach. One of my favorite dishes in Indian cuisine, Cardamom’s was the best one I have ever had. The spinach is so fresh and bursts with flavor.
Peshwari Naan – Indian bread baked in Tandoor with coconut, sultanas, dates and nuts. Instead of going for plain naan, we went with this one that was slightly sweet (from the coconut) on the finish. A perfect naan with spicy food.
Zafran Pilar – basmati rice cooked with saffron
For dessert we had the Kulfi, a frozen dairy dessert similar to ice cream but denser and creamier. The flavor was Malai (cream) flavor with pistachio and mango. Definitely a must-try dessert!
Of course we had leftovers as this was a lot of food for two people. I must say, it was as delicious the next day as it was that night and now, after writing this, I am hungry and ready to go back for more Saag Paneer!
7233 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036