People write reviews about the restaurants they eat in, the music they listen to and the movies they watch, why not the food items they eat? Wait! They do, don’t they? But anyways, I tried to come up with a good start to this post and ended up writing the above. Here’s a vegetarian review of an excellent starter *drumrolls* -The Paneer Tikka!!! *applause*
As a vegetarian, the one food which excites me no matter which restaurant I go to and has always been divine, soul quenching and befitting (at least in my case) is the Paneer Tikka. The best one in the SFO Bay Area so far is from the Anjappar Restaurant in Santa Clara. Here’s a picture of it (looks like a non-veg starter, but it’s not!):
For people who haven’t tried it: It is basically cottage cheese and slices of few other veggies such as bell peppers, onions and tomatoes, marinated and arranged in a stick and finally grilled in a Tandoor (clay oven). It is by far, the only grilled Vegetarian Tandoor dish most of the Indian restaurants serve. This is served with a side of mint chutney and a piece of lime.
What makes it so tasty? I would bank on the entire process: perfect marination, perfect grilling and a perfect dose of the chutney (too many “perfects”, I agree 😛 ). Tastewise, I like the medium spice one, crispy on the edges and juicy on the inside.
Why do you have to try this in spite of having many other starters like Pakodas (Pakoras), chaat, fried stuff? I would say, to get the taste of Tandoor it’s a must-must. Not often households have a Tandoor. The other starters can definitely be made at home with the right ingredients but never this (in Tandoor). You could debate, Pan-fried and oven cooked paneer tikkas are possible but I would argue saying you don’t have a Tandoor (unless you have one). The tandoor gives a slightly charred and roasted flavour which is one of its kind.
Where should you get it? Read reviews and get the best one in an Indian or Pakistani restaurant close to you and try it out yourself at home (if interested) after tasting it. Don’t forget the mint chutney dip and squeeze some lemon on top if you want to add some happy sourness.
So, go get your Paneer Tikka today! 🙂