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Indian Cuisine Deep Dive, At Aladin Indian Bistro in Norwalk, CT

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

DSC_0539Do you know what is curry? Well, may be you do, but it appears that I didn’t. To be more precise, I thought I knew – and I didn’t. Anyway, the explanation is coming down below – keep reading and looking at the pictures.

Aladin Indian Bistro located at the busy intersection in Norwalk, CT, literally around the corner from one of the best food stores in the area, Stew Leonard’s. Despite the busy intersection part, there is plenty parking in the back, which definitely helps. I don’t know about you, but when I’m thinking about going to the restaurant, parking is probably one of my very first concerns – I need to know if I will be circling around the busy street for half an hour or not, so again, I’m talking about important stuff here.

The Aladin’s interior is nicely appointed, with wood and leather, with enough space between the tables, and comfortable and inviting lighting.

DSC_0540As we got situated at our table, the neverending array of food started to appear. First, it was Papadum, the thin crisp flatbreads, made out of yellow lentil flour right at the restaurant – very tasty on its own and with the sauces. By the way, as I consider this visit more of a personal learning of the Indian cuisine, I will include here the links to the relevant articles on Wikipedia – here is the one for Papadum. We were also served a trio of accompanying sauces – Mint sauce, Braun Tamarind sauce and Onion Vinegar relish – all worked very well with papadum.

Our first dish was Spiced Sea Bass Pakoda (Sea Bass Fritters. Chili Yogurt sauce) – tender pieces of fish, deep fried in a special batter. This dish was quite successful in texture and had very mild spicy profile. I also really liked the presentation. By the way, continuing our education here, Pakoda ( often spelled as Pakora) is the common name for the deep fried snack in India and other Asian countries – here is your link to Wikipedia to learn more.

Next dish was Artichoke-Scallion Pakoda (Roasted eggplant Tamarind  aioli). Unfortunately, it was really dry and chewy – it looks pretty, though.

Artichoke-Scallion Pakoda

Artichoke-Scallion Pakoda

Ahh, almost forgot – of course we were drinking wine. The wine list at Aladin is small, but I found it to be quite appropriate for the type of cuisine the restaurant is serving. There is a good selection of the both light whites and reds, also the prices look quite reasonable. Overall we had 3 different wines during the course of a dinner. For the white, we had 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Saint M Riesling, Pfalz, Germany – very nice, simple, some honeydew notes on the palate, with a good amount of acidity and touch of sweetness, very refreshing – and most importantly, working quite well with practically all the dishes. Our first red was 2012 Gougenheim Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina – simple red, with some good acidity and light raspberries profile. Later on we switched to the 2012 900 Grapes Pinot Noir Marlborough, New Zealand – nice Pinot Noir profile, with some plump cherries both on the nose and the palate, may be a touch too sweet, but working well with the dishes.

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Our dinner continued with the trio of Chicken Kebabs – done in three different styles, all pieces perfectly tender, moist and juicy. When I cook myself, I generally avoid chicken kebab, as I typically have a hard time trying not to dry it out. The kebab which we were served, was probably one of the very best I ever had.

Chicken Kabob

Chicken Kebab

The next dish was probably one of the most favorite in the group – it is probably enough to say that we asked for the refill a couple of times. The dish was Karari  Bhindi (Crispy okra with red onion, cilantro and green  chili), as we called it a “crispy okra salad” – a perfect combination of spices and crunchy texture, very tasty.

Appearing next were a few dishes. Bagar Dal (yellow lentil flavored with cumin, curry leaves, fresh garlic and dry chili) was very tasty, and so was Rogan Josh Traditional (Goat with tomato curry with a hint of Yogurt):

Just to go on with our overall theme of learning, here is the link for Dal (a thick stew made out of dried legumes) and Rogan Josh – an aromatic lamb or goat-based stew. I don’t get to eat goat all that often, so it was an interesting experience and overall a very tasty dish.

Next up – Signature Lamb Dampak (tender Lamb cubes cooked in a sealed copper vessel) – this was a bit more familiar than the previous dish, very flavorful and aromatic, perfectly going over the jasmine rice, an excellent dish overall:

And then we had bread! Well, if you are familiar with the Indian cuisine, you know that I’m talking about Naan. It is generally served hot, and it is one of my very favorite types of bread you can get in the restaurant. It perfectly accompanies all of the stew-like dishes, and it literally melts in your mouth. We went through quite a few baskets of Naan, as you can never get enough of it.

Remember I asked you if you know what curry is? This was the question which Chef Roy, the Executive Chef and Owner of Aladin, asked us during one of his appearances:

Chef Roy talking to some of our dining crew

Chef Roy talking to some of our dining crew

I felt that the question is probably not as straight-forward as it seemed, but nevertheless, my answer was “of course! it is a spice!”. Well, this is exactly where I was wrong. Curry is a way of cooking with multitude of spices, but not the spice on its own! There all sorts of curry spices, all widely used in the cooking throughout the Asia, and they often share some common ingredients, like coriander and cumin, but overall, all those curries are different depending on the country and the dish which they will be used for. Apparntly “curry spice” as a nomenclature, was created a few hundred years ago, to sell a common blend of spices to the Westerners, as Asian-style cooking was becoming popular in Europe. And again, I have to refer you to the Wikipedia if you want to learn more.

Just to share my personal learning with you, I also learned that coriander is a seed of… cilantro! I love cilantro in everything, and I use coriander quite often, especially when it comes to the Fall cooking (roasted butternut squash soup is one example) – but I had no idea they are related! Live and learn…

Anyway, there are still a few dishes worth mentioning. We had Tawa “Surf n Turf” (combination Tandoori kebab platter of meat and seafood), very tasty:

There were more dishes, but I honestly lost track at that point of what was what, so here are the pictures (but I remember that everything was tasty!):

And, of course, the desert! Traditional Rice Pudding, nice, creamy, may be a touch too sweet for my taste, but still very refreshing after such an extensive meal:

Rice Pudding

Rice Pudding

All in all, this was an excellent “deep dive” into the world of the Indian cuisine, very unique and different. And as usual, the last thing left to do is to thank Chef Roy and his staff for the excellent meal and great education. Cheers!

Disclaimer: I attended the dinner as a guest of management. All opinions are my own.

Aladin Indian Bistro
36 Westport Ave
Norwalk, CT 06851
Phone: (203) 939-9040

Aladin Indian Bistro on Urbanspoon

  1. November 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    The food looks really good! And I am with you, naan is always a highlight of Indian food for me…

    • talkavino
      November 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      It was quite tasty too!

  2. PSsquared
    November 3, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I love Indian food, but don’t get to eat it very often. This looks amazing. And I completely agree with you about parking! Haha. Look like a lovely meal.

    • talkavino
      November 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks, Patty – the food was good!

  3. November 3, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    All the dishes look delicious! I’ve never eaten Karari Bhindi before but it looks extremely tasty.
    I agree with Oliver about naan: Naan is always a good excuse for visiting an Indian restaurant 🙂

    • talkavino
      November 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks, Julian! Yep, full agreement on Naan – I can just have a full basket by myself – that would make it a good meal : )

  4. November 3, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    The Karari Bhindi does look (sound) delicious!

    • talkavino
      November 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      yep, definitely was one of the standouts.

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