By Deby Goldfarb
Have you avoided dining at Indian restaurants because you presumed the food would be too spicy? If so, a dining experience at Sapphire Indian Cuisine will no doubt result in a change of heart. Though they can turn the spice temperature up, the secret for some is to simply use the word “Mild” when ordering.
Have a seat and relax in this pristine, upscale, white table-clothed restaurant and before you even order, you will notice a dozen types of breads on the menu, (including an unusual crispy peppery bread), that all work well to dunk it in any of the three different levels of sauces: spicy red pepper, mint and a mild tamarind relish. If you’re a bread lover, you’ll be in heaven with the Garlic Naan (soft bread, similar to pita, topped with fresh garlic), the Kheema Naan (soft bread stuffed with seasoned, ground lamb—what a treat!) or the Peshwari Naan (soft bread stuffed with coconut, almonds, cashews and raisins, a spectacular combination). This will get your engine warmed up and ready to move on to the very interesting Mulligatewny Soup, a traditional Indian soup made with lentils and vegetables. I found it a tad spicy but everyone else at the table swooned over it. How watchful of restaurant manager, Roy Fernandez to see my first and only struggle with the “heat” and quickly come to the rescue with a wonderful, mild (my favorite word here) tomato soup, one that is a far cry from any visions of the Campbell’s canned variety. It was rich and creamy with subtle spices and little curry leaves floating throughout for flavor, but not burn.
Don’t try to pronounce the names of the dishes but do be sure to order the “Aloo Papdi Chaat” appetizer, whether by the English translation right on the menu or by the silent finger-point method. Also note the helpful translated list of ingredients: wheat crisps, potatoes and chick peas in a yogurt, mint and tamarind sauce. This is very tasty, very healthy, and chock full of whole chick peas and savory spices. Another appetizer, “Lasooni Gobi” ties for first place in our ranking, composed of crispy battered florets of cauliflower sprinkled lightly with chili flakes and basking in a garlic, tomato chutney, making it veggie-healthy and yet exquisitely delicious. You’re going to want a ‘doggie bag’ even if just to get this sauce home for later. Speaking of healthy veggies, the “Samosa,” a typical Indian dinner starter, which looks like a crispy turnover, is filled with seasoned potatoes and peas while the “Pakora” is filled with baby eggplant with a sweet and sour sauce.
We were fortunate to be at a group dinner that made it easy to taste a variety of entrees including chicken, shrimp and lamb. We were also honored to have one of Pakistan’s most successful tennis players at our table on another evening. He confirmed the authenticity of the cuisine when he charmingly affirmed, “my mom went to the market every day for fresh vegetables and meats, and made these same fresh dishes for the six of us children.”
If you like chicken, don’t avoid the green chicken called “Mugh Methi” which is merely chicken rolled in baby spinach and spices, or another chicken dish. “Murg Tikka”, made with boneless white meat chicken and marinated in yet another great sauce of “hung” (seasoned) yogurt, and Garam Masala (Sapphire’s special seasoned curry sauce). Next, “Gosht Vindaloo,” consists of rolled pieces of lamb in a spicy, tangy sauce. For larger pieces of lamb, try the “Gosht Mughlai”, made of marinated lamb with nuts in a creamy onion sauce. (You’re going to want to find a way to bottle this sauce, too, and take it home for the next million meals.) Another winner, “Jhinga Ambotik” — jumbo prawns so large that they offer a lobster-like taste and texture, marinated in roasted, mild chilies and cilantro, and served in a spicy ginger and tamarind tomato sauce that will satisfy even the strongest seafood cravings.
What side dishes are typically served with chicken, lamb or seafood? “Navratan Korma” or fresh mixed vegetables in a light, yellow cashew nut sauce, again so enhanced with the unique and special blend of Indian spices. Another option is a spinach-cheese mixture served in a pretty round copper casserole dish with a glass insert to which our Pakistani Tennis Pro so rightly asked for potatoes to be added that gave it bulk and substance.
Sapphire offers an array of wines covering many regions, from Napa to Napoli. We opted for a bubbly Spanish Rose Cava as a starter that paired well with the chicken and seafood, and then moved to richer, complex reds, both from Paso Robles, California: EOS Cabernet Sauvignon and Troublemaker, a fun name for a wine with a fabulous blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Zinfandel, both pairing well with the lamb dishes.
Don’t even think about leaving without tasting Sapphire’s sweet, and surprising desserts such as “Coconut Kheer” (a milky, coconut rice pudding sprinkled with crushed pistachio, a divinely different version of our standard fare). Even more out-of-the-ordinary, “Rasmali” is a homemade sweet cottage cheese patty in sweetened milk flavored with cardamom and pistachio.
It’s obvious that word has gotten out about this Sapphire gem; every table was filled the nights we’ve dined there. Bravo to owner Raju Brahmbhatt, who had a fine Indian restaurant in New York and saw the need for one like it in South Florida. It’s a given, that once you see these beautiful and colorful presentations, and taste these alluring flavors, whether you like it hot or not, you are going to be drawn back for more. With the array of ingredients needed to get it right, from dashes of tumeric, cumin, saffron, tamarind, cardamom, roasted coriander seeds, coconut, cashews, and pistachio — just to name a few pille und antibiotika – was muss man beachten? | ohnerezeptfreikauf — I personally will give up the idea of reproducing these masterpieces in the kitchen and come to Sapphire Indian Cuisine to leave it to the experts. stb
Sapphire Indian Cuisine is at 500 Via De Palmas in Royal Palm Place, Boca Raton 33432. Phone 561-362-2299 or SapphireBoca.com.