About 10 days ago, we had the pleasure of dining at Dakshin (1154 First Avenue, between 63rd and 64th; New York, NY; Tel: 212.355.4600).
The scent of fresh baked naan and superbly blended Indian spices attracted my olfactory senses as soon as I entered this small treasure of a restaurant; like a coiled streamed white scent leading from the kitchen, it beckoned and did not disappoint.
Dakshin and its owner Sanjay Bhatnagar are the real deal in authentic Indian cuisine. The menu was jam packed with diverse regional offerings; from the traditional vegetarian dishes of the North down to rich southern region’s fish dishes sourced from the Indian Ocean with a broad selection of poultry, beef and lamb to round off the menu.
We started the meal with an unusual Chicken Naan. Pieces of chicken are kneaded into the dough and then baked in Dakshin‘s own tandoori (clay) oven. It transported us to another time, to another realm, we loved it!
With over 13 appetizers to choose from, we let Sanjay and his son pick favorites for us. Mine was Hari Bhari Tikki. This consisted of spinach and potato cakes flavored with fresh chillies, coriander leaves and ginger, grilled on a skillet.
CS had Lasoni Mushrooms, fresh mushrooms sauteed with fresh ginger, tomatoes, garlic and coriander. Both appetizers were served on banana leaves, the traditional Hindu way. A great start, for the surprising flavors yet to come.
We then tasted a Lemon Rice…
…which we left as a superb accompaniment for the mains. While neither CS nor I care much for cauliflower, we both agreed that the Ghobi Aloo (cauliflowers and potato cooked in a mild gravy) was a new experience in taste, one we’ll just have to repeat.
We then shared the Chicken Tikka – breast marinated in ginger, garlic and lime juice, grilled over a slow fire – and Tandoori Chicken…
…chicken on the bone, marinated in spices and herbs, grilled on a slow fire. Throughout the meal we dipped the pieces in their mint chutney, onion and tamarind relishes, we loved all three! Like being submerged into a bath of jasmine and floating lotus blossoms anointed with hennaed palms and feet.
It was a very different experience for a western palate; it was an unusual but very tasty meal. Now that we are in the final stages of cleaning our homes for Pessach, a time when many start eating out for the next few days, Dakshin makes a perfect place to savor something very different from the usual fare and it’s all reasonably priced too!
They also deliver frozen foods, I’ll have to order immediately after Pessach.