Savor Our City hosted a media dinner for Tanjore Indian Cuisine. Check out this article published in The Boca Raton Tribune:
Contemporary Eclectic Indian cuisine – a “Must Try”
By Kenny Spahn
If you’re hungry for a taste of something different, put Tanjore Indian Cuisine on your “Must Try” list. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking at the mention of Indian food: “a lunch buffet full of unknown dishes that all look alike and taste like spicy curry.” And, admittedly, that’s what you’ll find at many Indian restaurants in America. But Tanjore Owner Christopher Corda (originally from Bombay) and Chef Yogi Dhwale set out to give south Florida a different taste of Indian food. The result is a unique (and delicious!) dining experience, blending traditional Indian cooking with a modern eclectic twist within a sleek and sophisticated setting, located in downtown Boca’s Royal Palm Place (taking the place of the former Indian restaurant, Sapphire.
So what makes Tanjore different? First and foremost, the ingredients. Indian cuisine is all about the spices, and this is where Tanjore truly exceeds the norm. As Christopher explains, not only does he source his ingredients directly from India; but he also he also gets the spices in their fresh whole state (rather than settling for institutionally prepared dried spices), and then roasts and grinds them in-house, thereby maximizing their full nuances and fragrances. The spices are roasted in the authentic tandoor ovens (traditional Indian clay pots), which further imbues all those wonderful notes into the vessels themselves, imbuing subtle dimension to all of their temporary tenants. Speaking of tandoor ovens, Tanjore uses authentic Indian clay tandoors, and then ups the ante by adding dried Applewood chips inside, thus infusing subtle fruity-smokiness. Chef Yogi also composes his own spice blends such as curries, garam masala, and a powdered peppery mix known as ‘gunpowder.’ Another big difference: Tanjore offers representative dishes from all across India, not just one region – hence its tagline, “Modern Eclectic Indian.” Also note Tanjore’s sexy and sophisticated modern ambience with an open, airy feel, clean white walls with cobalt blue accents, and crisp linens. There’s also a full bar with some creative craft cocktails, which always helps!
Indian cuisine is a veritable symphony of divergent flavors and sensations, each of which sings in its own distinctive voice, yet all meld together in an alchemistic-like harmony. The flavor characteristics span the culinary gamut, exciting every nook & cranny of the taste buds: The familiar autumnal glow of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace; the exotic smoky notes of cumin, coriander, turmeric, and saffron; the warming sweet-spice of clove, cardamom, and carom seeds; the licorice-like taste of anise, fennel, and star anise; the intriguing sweet-tart umami of tamarind and kaffir lime leaves; the savory zip of garlic and ginger; the offsetting sweetness of coconut, cashews, and fenugreek; the warming heat of peppers and chilies, ranging from very mild to insanely hot (including Ghost Pepper (Bhoot Jhooakiya), with a scorching Scoville rating topping one million units!); the cooling creaminess of thickened yogurt and coconut milk; the acidic pungency of lime zest, ginger juice, vinegars, and pickling spices; the bright enhancement of fresh herbs (namely mint, chives, and fenugreek leaves); and the complex amalgamation of distinctively Indian blends like garam masala, curries, gunpowder, and chutneys of all sorts. One thing for sure – you won’t need any salt, pepper, or hot sauce here, as each bite is a flavor explosion in your mouth. Another benefit: These spices are bursting with of medicinal and health benefits – just check your local health food store, and you’ll find almost all of them in compound and pill form.
Chef Yogi then selectively utilizes these varying components in each of his dishes, from appetizers to desserts. In true Indian fashion, you won’t find beef or pork offerings at Tanjore, but you will find an array of proteins (chicken, lamb, seafood, and fish), starches & legumes (rice, lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes of all kinds), and veggies (i.e., cauliflower, spinach, sweet peppers, onions); plus an array of fresh herbs, nuts, seeds, and other enhancements. You’ll also find some unexpected ingredients you wouldn’t expect with Indian cuisine — from venison, pen hen, and branzino; to balsamic vinegar, rum, and tequila; to mozzarella, mangosteen, shitake mushrooms, green apples, and truffle oil.
If you’re a lamb lover, Tanjore is your place, offering perhaps the largest selection of lamb dishes in town — over a dozen. Paiala Ghosh, for instance, is slow-braised until tender goodness in a savory broth enhanced with caramelized onions, black cardamom, house-roasted garam masala, and ‘hung’ yogurt (the Indian version of Greek yogurt). It’s a savory and heartwarming dish reminiscent of braised short rib, that says “comfort food” in any language. Lamb is treated to a surprising conglomeration of creamy cashew “milk,” malt vinegar, and green apples in the Lamb Shahi Korma; while Lamb Shank (Dum Pukht), Lamb Chops, Lamb Saagwala (in a mild spinach puree with ginger), and Leg of Lamb are some other lamby options. There’s just as many Chicken dishes, like Tikka Masala in a nutmeg-napped creamy sauce, Chicken Korma (with green apple, cashews, fresh herbs, and apple cider vinegar), a ginger-kissed Chicken Curry, and of course, the iconic Tandoori Chicken (from the Punjab region), baked in the signature Tandoori oven with a special blend of tandoori spices, along with ginger and lime juice.
Seafood fans will appreciate the many aquatic offerings. Of particular note, the Pastooni Lobster Masala — a house specialty that will give you a whole new perspective on Indian cuisine. Delicate morsels of fresh lobster tail and shitake mushrooms are sautéed in a Chablis, ‘clotted turmeric’ (turmeric-infused coconut milk), and enriched tomato broth. The unique concoction is presented within the fresh coconut shell, adorned with the empty lobster tail shells, thus adding further visual appeal. Another signature dish is Malai Halibut — fresh local halibut sautéed in a fragrant coconut milk bath studded with an intriguing blend of mace, cardamom, ginger juice, lemongrass, and coconut milk. Yum!
Other delights from the sea include whole Branzino (Noorani), Jhor Jhinga Prawns (sautéed in unique seasoned butter), Tamilian Fish Curry (Mahi Mahi in a savory coconut cream base), Garlic Shrimp Bhuna, and Bajlele Grilled Pompano. Of course vegetarians will have fun experiencing the many veggie offerings, from basic sides to complex entrees. Broiled cauliflower with potatoes (Sindhil Aloo Gobi), Mushrooms with Cipollini onions in a tangy tomato sauce (Khumb Jalfrezi), Japanese eggplant with desiccated (flaked) coconut, peanuts, and hung yogurt (Baingan Saraf), Corn Kababs with cumin, coriander, and ‘gunpowder,’ and several versions of Paneer (a fresh mild cheese with a dense crumbly texture, somewhat reminiscent of queso fresco) are just some of the many meatless options.
Of course no Indian meal is complete without some of that wonderful Naan, the quintessential Indian staple. Naan is an Indian flatbread, traditionally cooked in the tandoor oven. The dough is formed into a circle and then literally stuck onto the wall of the tandoor oven. After a few minutes, the chef ‘peels’ the bread from the oven (you know it’s the real deal when the cooks all have burn marks on their knuckles!). The Naan comes out of the oven, puffed up like a balloon and still hot, wonderfully fragrant, bearing the slight char and subtle crunch of a wood-fired pizza crust, yet still soft and pillowy like a just-made pita. Tanjore makes renditions, including traditional plain, Rosemary, Garlic, Onion, Whole Wheat, and even a Mushroom & Truffle naan!
The lunch menu features most of the dinner items, plus other special lunch offerings. In true Indian custom, lunches are presented in Tiffins, metal tins that stack upon each other and then interlock into one convenient “lunchbox.” You’re presented with a shiny stack of four tins, each containing a different entrée, rice, or veggie.
For dessert, Gajrela is a truly unique Indian specialty, an intriguing caramelized Carrot Pudding with pistachios and cashews, accompanied by vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis. Other sweet endings include traditional mango and pistachio ice cream, caramelized basmati rice pudding with pistachios, and a refreshing Coconut Sorbet served in a fresh coconut shell. Complete the experience with some liquid refreshment from the full bar, including some very creative specialty cocktails, and an impressive list of cordials, scotches and brandies, plus a large selection of specialty teas.
I must admit, I harbored some negative thoughts on Indian food myself based upon past experience. But a visit to Tanjore gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation of Indian cuisine. So the next time you’re in the mood for some ethnic food, bypass the usual Italian, Mexican, or Chinese, and go Indian – at Tanjore!
Tanjore Indian Cuisine is located in Royal Palm Place (500 Via De Palmas #79), Boca Raton, FL 33432. Open daily for lunch and dinner, plus weekend Brunch. Private party facilities available, including an outdoor patio for up to 100 guests. For more information, call 561-288-5800 or visit: www.TanjoreUSA.com. Also Follow on Facebook & Instagram @TanjoreUSA
For more information about Restaurant Placement Group, visit www.RestaurantPlacement.com
Kenny Spahn is a renowned food critic and culinary columnist, and has published over 600 articles on the south Florida dining scene. The Boca Raton Tribune is proud to have Mr. Spahn as a contributor. Ken Spahn also heads up Restaurant Placement Group, an exclusive recruiting and consulting firm for the Restaurant, Food Service, and Hospitality industry. www.RestaurantPlacement.com