Bukhara Grill ~ Orderinny

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bukhara Grill

The last week was John's final week at work, and I will miss John, not just for the camaraderie, the division of labor and the shared jokes and meals, but also for an arsenal of Indian food knowledge. I was a chicken tikka masala girl, didn't like raita and had no clue which paneer was. John changed that. Most of all, he introduced me to mithai. Mithai, where were you all these years?!
You know how much people like him by how long his farewell celebrations went. Besides the perfunctory round of drinks and a lunch treat by our boss the day after John's last day at work, a bunch of close friends even met for dinner the week before. The place we chose? Bukhara Grill, for its close proximity to work, large, safe North Indian menu and some nostalgia, for we had often ordered from there by way of Seamless Web.
As people settled in the long banquette with their Taj Mahal beers and mango lassis, we started with crisp papadums and some chaat, or what I described to first timers as "deconstructed potato salad". The potatos and chickpeas added heft, the crackers crunch, the yogurt cool tartness and the green mint and red (tamarind?) chutneys lifted the dense dish with sweet, hot and aromatic flavors. Samosas were also decent but not as fun as chaat, at least for me.
The entrees consisted of vegetarian and meat dishes. Instead of chicken tikka masala, John selected chicken makhani, a tomato-based chicken curry that John calls butter chicken. Dieters beware, because the sauce is indeed super creamy and great with the copious amounts of freshly baked carb-filled naan at our disposal. The other meat dish was either lamb or goat. I can't remember, I was too busy eating the tender meat laced with a complex sauce. Besides the meat dishes, we had also a chickpea side, and some favorite vegetable dishes. Saag paneer is spinach and Indian cheese cooked with a lot of different spices, where the heat from ginger and cumin really lingers and warms you long after you've swallowed the entire dish. And my ultimate favorite - gobi taka tin, the flourescent red and oily cauliflower stirfry. Indians sure know how to cook cauliflower, from Gobi Taka Tin at Bukhara to the Manchurian Cauliflower at Chinese Mirch. Most of the time, cauliflower is undercooked or so resolutely overcooked that it turns into a mash. Here, the diced cauliflower is cooked through but retains its shape, and the bell peppers and some tomato puree adds contrast to this spicy yet comforting dish.
That night we ate, we talked, we enjoyed John's company and his running annotation of dishes we ordered. I committed to memory as best as I could and am noting it all down here, so that next time I fancy some Indian food, I won't have to call John at Penn come dinner time.

Bukhara Grill
217 E 49th St (2nd & 3rd Ave)

No comments: