Tanjore, A Divine Taste of India

So you think you might not want to try Indian cuisine because it’s too spicy? Au contraire! On the contrary! You really owe it to yourself to venture into the new “Tanjore” Restaurant in Boca because it is a marvelous culinary experience. Their ads read that they are the “Best Indian Restaurant in Boca Raton” and it’s no false claim. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. First, the food is absolutely authentic. Chef Yogi has mastered the craft so that even if you aren’t planning a trip to the other side of the globe, you are still guaranteed to feel like you just visited India. Rather than being subjected to the 18 hour plane ride from Florida, it is fortunate that we can experience the taste of Bombay (or Mumbai) and other areas of Southwest India right here in our Boca backyard.

The second reason Tanjore is set apart from other Indian restaurants is that they truly listen to the customer and know how to manage the degree of “heat” in a dish. The wait staff and chef understand the preference and the all-important request for “not too spicy.”

Our server, “Rizwan” was most helpful because he “gets it.” He speaks English and clearly understands the uncertainty of those who have difficulty with the long, unfamiliar words and the fear of pioneering into the unknown. He makes the basic categories clear (meat, fish, seafood) and doesn’t even try to have us pronounce or remember the myriad of spices and ingredients used. In fact, we found the menu so varied, that we relied on Rizwan for advice. We learned which dishes were his favorites and which were not going to have us running to call the fire department. General Manager, Christopher Corda, also a native of India, has gathered a talented team that has created a world-class restaurant. How impressive that the restaurant earned a prestigious Michelin star the first year it opened.

To its merit, the menu is extensive but has helpful translations after each dish and, it also thoughtfully keeps up with today’s tastes, offering both Non-Vegetarian
and Vegetarian Appetizers.

We started with a nice variety that included grilled scallops, sauteed prawns and pounded lamb. The four large sea scallops, known to have a bit more chewy texture than the smaller bay scallops, were wonderfully crispy on top (thanks to a delicious concoction of tomato chutney, poppy seeds and special spices.) The sauteed prawns were covered with an outstanding sauce but the only recognizable ingredient was butter. We won’t be duplicating that “jhorbihari masala” sauce at home; even if we could find the masala powder, there are six or more other necessary powders and spices to get the mix just right. The pounded lamb grilled on a stone is unique and tender, and again, the sauce is an enviable winner. The saffron is a nice touch and the Kashmiri chilies (chile from the northern region
of Kashmir) are just enough to add a kick, not a punch. The lamb is served with “parantha”, a flaky whole wheat Indian flatbread that gives the dish even more substance in case you feel extra hungry.

Just to be fashionable (and, of course, healthy), we decided to try a vegetarian offering. The “Lasuni Gobi” was crispy cauliflower tossed in a tangy garlic and tomato sauce. Opinions ran from “very tasty” to “pass the water” as the word “tangy” here was an understatement.

For entrees, there is an excellent variety of chicken, lamb and sh or seafood.Go for the “Amristari Butter Chicken” made with Tandoori pulled chicken (that is, chicken made in a Tandoor or cylindrical clay or metal oven.) Again, the dish has an inimitable sauce, so good it will be impossible to copy, as it is to pronounce. It is made of a tomato butter reduction and “fenugreek” leaves (a plant found in Greece.)

Another truly mouthwatering entree is the “Tamilian Fish Curry.” Tamil, another region in India, provides another different batch of herbs and spices that mix with coconut cream, curry leaves and “Kokum”, a plant that bears fruit that you will think are red cherries. The fish used is a quality Mahi Mahi that is flaky and tender. The recipe also calls for whole red chiles but the chef can also make it with just a hint of chilies and curry, just enough to make you crave it and want to come back for more.

Just as it would be an oversight to miss mentioning the importance of nice, fluy rice with dinner, the importance of “Nan” (breads) cannot be overlooked either.There are at least ten different types of Nan and these flatbreads can be white or wheat. They come speckled with rosemary, or with garlic, onion, nuts, raisins or even mint. A favorite is the ‘Mushroom Truffle Nan”, a white leavened bread made with mushrooms and truffle oil. You should not leave without
tasting this joyous mix of ingredients that are baked right into the bread.

At last, after all the sizzling tastes and spices, Tanjore cools it down with some Indian desserts that you cannot pronounce but will certainly appreciate.We tried a “Gulab Jamoon”, a dry milk dumpling that gets a moistening with vanilla ice cream and “Ma’s rice pudding.” (Yes, more rice!) For something different, you might opt for “Rasmalai” which look like little miniwheat cookies that are sweetened by condensed milk and served with very small chocolates that looks like miniature M&Ms.

Not one to normally choose a veggie over chocolate (especially for dessert) I have now reformed and would choose this sweet (and healthy) grand finale: The “Gajrela.“ It looks like a mishmash of shredded carrot served with a dollop of mango ice cream on the side but the carrot slivers are in a kind of sweet
pudding, just heavenly after an evening of spicy or even so-so spicy cuisine. If you think carrot cake “takes the cake” then you might change your mind after tasting this noncake carrot variation. How nice to conclude on a healthy note. So now, with all those saved calories, it makes perfect sense to head back here soon where I don’t know the names of the dishes but I know they’ll be done perfectly. I’m a new fan. I don’t want to pronounce it or cook it, I just want to eat it!I think I’ll go back again tomorrow.

561-288-5800 • tanjoreusa.com
500 Via De Palmas #79
Boca Raton, Florida 33432