Yep. You heard it here first. The self-appointed “French Fry Queen” is taking on a new lover, in the form of Indian food. I had tried Indian cuisine multiple times back in Philly, and to me, it was very much like making out with a “6” – I’ll take it if there’s nothing else offered but it certainly doesn’t excite me. But that all changed the summer of 2016 on my first trip to England where I had Indian cuisine in London and fell head over heels with the real deal Indian food. My affair only grew the next summer when I dined at Mowgli in Liverpool, and I knew I never wanted to go another day in my life without the flavors of India. So you can imagine how stoked I was when I found out that a new Indian restaurant opened in Boca – and I am SO psyched to introduce you all to my new love affair with Tanjore!
Immediately greeting us at the table was a basket of Idli, which was a welcome change (AND healthier alternative, as it’s gluten-free and vegan) from the typical naan. It was light and crispy and certainly hard to resist, especially with the exotic sauces it was served with (think Indian flavored versions of BBQ and pesto).
But luckily I didn’t spoil my appetite on the Idli, as my mouth was also busy chugging down our welcome drink, called the Boca Sunset, made with champagne, elderflower and blackberry liqueur. Indian food certainly brings the heat, so this drink was extra refreshing and certainly needed not just for it’s magical alcohol effects.
Speaking of bringing the heat, I was pretty proud of my fierce but casual outfit. Scope the ‘gram (for anyone who isn’t a millennial reading this, that’s slang for “look at this picture on my Instagram”) for the full outfit description.
This is my own personal version of nirvana. OMG. Chef Yogi Dhwale and owner Chris Corda developed a sample platter for us so that we could get a little taste of everything. Which incidentally is what I write I’m looking for on my Tinder profile. From left to right, here’s what I was workin’ with: Bhatti Di Paneer, marinated in olive oil, royal cumin, roasted coriander and red chiles; 2 kinds of chicken kabobs: Murgh Le Tikkey (red) with yogurt, garam masala, jalapeños and roasted chiles and Malai Kebab (white) with yogurt, mace, cardamom and cheese; Tawa Machli, tilapia that has been breaded and crisped with lemon juice, curry leaves, turmeric and tamarind; a sprout salad with green lentils, onions, tomatoes, mango powder, black pepper sea salt and pomegranate seeds; Pani Poori, chickpea puffs stuffed with potato and caramelized onions, served in a shot glass of tamarind juice and chili, and Tandoori prawns marinated in cumin, coriander, cinnamon and caraway seeds. THIS is why Indian food intrigues me so greatly – because look at how many different flavors you can get on just one plate! I’ll drink anything that comes from a shot glass, so of course I liked the Pani Poori. It was like an Indian French onion soup. The salad wasn’t what I would expect coming out of an Indian kitchen, but it sure was a welcome, light, refreshing taste to the mix. But what completely stole my heart, and what I was most looking forward to before even arriving to the restaurant, was the paneer. I say that Indian food is my new french fries, but really, paneer is my new fries. I mean seriously I just want to take a bucket of paneer to the movies and chow down. The disappointment I feel when there’s no paneer left on my plate is more disappointing than this season’s ratings of American Idol. Per Wikipedia, Paneer is is a “fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in India. It is an unaged, acid-set, non-melting farmer cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.” It reminds me of a slightly less firm but chewier version of tofu, except this is CHEESE, not BEAN CURD – I mean, which would YOU rather have?!? If you don’t say cheese, then you’re at the wrong blog. If you haven’t tried paneer yet, this definitely needs to be the first dish you try at Tanjore. Call me if you have leftovers.
Of course we had to indulge in some Samosas, a crisp turnover filled with potatoes and green peas, seasoned with black salt, cumin, coriander, and served with pomegranate chutney. To me, the spice mix displays the flavor of exactly what I love about Indian food – no other cuisine is spiced quite like it. This is a great dish for someone who hasn’t tried much, if any, Indian food because it’s basically like a fried mashed potato. Did I just make Indian food scream “MURICA?!” Whoops.
Ok, so let’s be honest – being served a whole fish isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not even their cup of tequila (omg am I the only one who does that?!). It’s definitely a presentation that still freaks me out. But if books were judged by their cover, then I’d never get any dates, and you might not eat this Bajlele Pompano, and you would definitely be missing out (I can’t say the same for dating me – with that, my best advice is to run as fast as you can). This grilled Pompano is made with coriander, fenugreek and lime zest. It tastes phenomenal and also displays how Tanjore doesn’t do just typical Indian dishes, but upscale seafood as well.
A Japanese dinner wouldn’t be complete without sushi. Mexican wouldn’t be the same without chips and salsa. American fare is synonymous with a fat guy in a corny t-shirt trying to start a bar fight. And Indian food needs its basmati rice. This is Tanjore’s Saffron Rice- which is flavored with saffron and peas. To be honest, rice isn’t my jam. As much as I love Indian food, the rice more serves as a vehicle for the variety of sauces. But THIS rice? Totally stands on its own! Totally independent. You go rice, go!
There are a wide variety of unique desserts available to end your meal (although if you stop in for their weekend brunch buffet, who says it EVER has to end?!), but my favorite was the Gajrela, which is to the right of this picture and is a caramelized carrot pudding, pistachios, cashew nuts, vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis (this was obviously a scaled down version that we received). Did I just choose carrots over chocolate? And paneer over french fries?? Yeah, they must be wizards at Tanjore. But like the friendly kind. Like they should have a theme park at Universal, not Harry Potter. Because I would definitely like to raft through a sea of Masala sauce on a paneer float.
If you know me, you know it takes a lot to measure up to my beloved french fries. So do yourself a favor and go see for yourself!
***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.