My favourite Indian restaurants in Manhattan are Chennai Garden and Chinese Mirch. Now I have to add Amma to the list and I'll have to take my parents there whenever they come visit me from Bombay. Located in Midtown East, Amma is a class act as far as Indian restaurants are concerned. The ambience is sophisticated, the service impeccable and the food truly outstanding.
I had dinner last night with a friend visiting from San Francisco. The candle lighting, orange walls and tiny space created a cozy atmosphere that was perfect for a mellow night out when you want to chat more than check out the scene. Chris had been to Amma twice before and so the service we got from Prem, the restaurant manager, was extra special. Prem is a burly chap with oodles of enthusiasm and impressive knowledge about Indian food and wine pairings. He really knew his wine and had a ready recommendation as the perfect pairing for every dish we asked about.
Chris and I shared a bhel puri (of course!) as an appetizer. It was a good blend of crispiness, spiciness, sweetness and tartness from the sev, onions, potatos and the various chutneys. But I have to say that Chennai Garden still holds (for me) the title of best bhel in Manhattan.
I ordered the jackfruit biryani and bhindi ka raita (crispy okra and yogurt salad). Chris opted for the farm raised basil chicken with tomato chutney and lemon rice. We decided to share gobi manchurian which is garlic marinated cauliflower coooked the Indo-Chinese way.
My mouth was literally watering when my plate of steaming, aromatic rice and vegetables arrived along with the yogurt-based side dish. Prem recommended the Zemmer Pinot Grigio 2002 (Alto Adige, Italy) which he felt paired well with the biryani. Between sips of the Pinot Grigio and bites of biryani, I went to heaven and back a few times. I've never really experienced such a fabulous wine and food pairing (I'm vegetarian after all) which is perhaps why I enjoyed the meal so much.
Since it was a regular weekday night, I didn't want to overeat. I'm definitely coming back with Harsha for the vegetarian tasting menu with wine pairing. It looks totally divine:
Bombay Bhel Puri
rice puffs, cilantro, red onions, mint and tamarind chutneys, potatoes
Crispy Fried Spinach
mung beans, potatoes, onions, tamarind and mint chutneys
Pea Stuffed Samosa & Stuffed Mushroom
ginger-cilantro peas in pastry, cheese-chile stuffed mushrooms
rice and bean dumplings, curry leaves and mustard seeds
garlic marinated cauliflower, Indo-Chinese style
red onions, tomatoes, chaat masala
Laukee Ke Kofte
zucchini dumplings, aromatic tomato gravy
Jackfruit (kathal) Biryaani
cauliflower,potatoes, whole spices
Bhindi Ka Raita
crispy okra and yogurt salad
Kulfi (Indian ice cream) with Citrus Soup
246 East 51st Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
New York, NY 10022