An Indian feast with just the right amount of spices


Tandoor's entrees were adequate, but dessert was lacking

April 27, 2005|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It was Friday evening and company was on the way. Why not an Indian feast? Passing savory dishes around the table and ripping pieces from a communal order of naan would compensate for the lack of a home-cooked meal.

A friend had tipped us off about India Tandoor in the southern end of Charles Village, a restaurant that somehow we had missed.

At 5:30 p.m., the modest-sized restaurant with snowy-white tablecloths and a wall-to-wall mirror was empty. For an unknown reason, the carryout menu touted "Grand Opening," a puzzling claim considering the restaurant has been around for years. No matter.

We placed our usual enormous order and the hostess thoughtfully asked if our various dishes should be prepared with mild, medium or a large amount of spice. We opted for mild to be on the safe side.

Told it would be a 45-minute wait, we also took advantage of the restaurant's free delivery service. About an hour later, dinner arrived and the guessing game began: Which dish was which?

Not that it mattered. Almost everything was uniformly flavorful, if less than outstanding.

Unfamiliarity bred just a bit of uneasiness with the India Tandoor combo platter ($6.95), an appetizer that consisted of bright red bits of fish as well as chicken pakora and a meat samosa.

The vegetarian appetizer ($5.95) was a combination of vegetable pakora, paneer tikka and a samosa. The fried pakora, reminiscent of Japanese tempura, tasted a little more familiar, although it had lost its hot crispiness en route to our house.

Sweet-and-sour mango chutney ($2.25) went around the table several times, a piquant complement to the spicier dishes, which were not, according to my request, that spicy.

Cucumber-and-tomato raita ($2) also kept us cool and refreshed. Chicken tikka masala ($11.95) featured a pleasant, rich tomato sauce and lamb do-piaza ($10.95) was a rich stew of meat sauteed in vinegar with tomato, spices, yogurt, onions and peppers. Rashmi kebab ($11.95), a dish made of chicken cooked in ground peanuts, almonds, cream cheese and chickpea flour, earned both raves and pans.

One of the evening's most successful dishes was bengan bartha ($8.95), a satisfying dish of roasted eggplant cooked with coriander, cumin, onions and tomatoes.

The naan, ($1.75) unleavened white bread, was tender and hot. Two orders disappeared in a flash.

Dessert was desultory. The promising gulab jamun, a dessert of little round cakes simmered in honey, was lackluster. And the consistency of the kheer, a soupy blend of rice and whole milk, appealed only to a few of our guests.

Know of a good carryout that we should visit? Tell us about it. E-mail: carryouts@

India Tandoor

Food: **1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Service: *** (3 stars)

Waiting area: *** (3 stars)

Parking: *** (3 stars)

Where: 2101 N. Charles St., Lower Charles Village

Phone: 410-468-0969

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; dinner, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday

Prices: Indian appetizers and entrees, from $1.75 to $16.95; lunch buffet $4.95; credit cards accepted Outstanding: **** ; Good: *** ; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *

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