Give it a swirl.
There are restaurants that people frequent simply because they like the atmosphere. Well-lit temples of design, the food at these restaurants is but a trial to be passed before the real fun can begin. But wait—hope for diners who like pretty places and good food may come in the form of a renovated home named after a river that runs through Pakistan and northern India. Accordingly, the restaurant serves up northern Indian favorites like biryani and various kinds of grilled meat, but with a fresh twist that manages to lighten up typically heavy Indian cuisine. That lightness comes through with appetizers like kebah e malai, chicken slathered with yogurt and grilled on skewers to keep its juices. The ubiquitous chicken tikka (grilled in a red yogurt marinade) gets a makeover with samandari tikka: large, and in this case succulent, barbecued prawns. The cooks even depart from the beaten path to offer an “Indus signature dish”: the paneer kali roll, cottage cheese with onion, pepper and greens wrapped in a tortilla. The requisite roti selection includes a healthy whole-wheat tandoori option, but if you’re a resolute rice eater, go for the zafrani biryani, a saffron-spiked rice dish studded with chicken, peas and cashew nuts. At this point, sated from the complimentary vegetable samosa and the ministrations of intelligent and eager-to-please waitstaff, it would be advisable to head upstairs to the shisha bar or to the rec room in back that they call a bar. The lightness that distinguishes Indus’ tandoori offerings, kebabs and appetizers ends up muddling the restaurant’s “main” dishes: the rogan josh or mutton curry, is sweet and overcooked with only a whisper of spice, while “Kamal’s chicken curry” is a salty selection of spices hiding large chunks of chicken. The tarka daal, or yellow lentils, brings to one diner’s mind cassoulet, to another’s straight chicken broth. Then the epiphany hits: this is Indian Lite, too well-mannered to offend with a stray chili or cardamom pod. That extends to the Indian chai tea at the end, which resembles Lipton tea into which masala has accidentally fallen. Those to whom Indian is a freaky culinary adventure could find a reassuring guide in Indus. Those seeking the heady flavors of India should head closer to the river.
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