I remember the first time I went here with J and C maybe ten years ago, I thought it was so adventurous that they were the kind of people that eat Indian food and how cool it was that they invited me along. In the decade since, Tandoor e India has become a takeout staple of ours, and we even head over to dine-in once in a while.
The decor of the restaurant is right out of Jaipur. And not some amusement park gimmick version of Jaipur, but typical of actual restaurants in India. The walls are decorated with diagonally laid wooden planks, on which are hung velvet paintings of scenes like the Taj Mahal and Ganesh. All plants are plastic, Christmas lights are used in places as accents, and the neon signs in the window cast a soft glow on one whole section of the restaurant.
There is a buffet table, but we've only eaten it once. There is just too much other good stuff on the menu.
When we went the other night, M and I were joined by V and J, and when we walked in were pleasantly surprised to find a very pregnant J and her husband T already seated at a table. J heard that spicy food gets babies rolling on the born train, so this was her second visit there in a week. We shuffled seats around a bit and they joined us for dinner for six.
There aren't often a lot of people in the restaurant. This night, there was only two other tables seated, and both had left halfway into our meal. It's great to have the restaurant to ourselves, but I'm always disappointed that more people don't know about the restaurant, because they don't know what they're missing out on.
We brought a couple of bottles of Indian wine with us (theme night!) and had screwed off the tops and had it poured into our water cups before the server could even bring us wine glasses. Not pregnant J, of course. She stuck with a mango lassi, which was sweet and delicious.
The menu can be confusing. It's a list of Indian named dishes, under which is an English description of what the dish includes. The descriptions aren't evocative at all, though, so if we're feeling like being adventurous, that could work out wonderfully or disappointingly. It's kind of a crap shoot, but I've never gotten anything that I actually really disliked.
We all went a bit apeshit with the ordering on this particular night, and here's what we got:
Samosas - classic Indian street food. These were larger than ones we bought on the streets of India, and very spicy. My mouth was on fire for ten minutes after I finished just one. M ate the other down to the last bite.
Korma - this is on the menu as a chicken dish, but I asked them to substitute lamb instead. The dish is creamy and delicious, and is my de facto option when we order here. J tried it and agreed that it was fantastic.
Naan, Cheese and Onion - I don't know why I always go with the cheese naan, but when I'm hungry it sounds like such a great option. And it definitely is tasty, but it's so filling that it's a meal on its own. I should stick with garlic naan, which is kinda the bread version. J and M shared the onion version, which was also really good, and filling.
M and J both ordered some kind of lamb dish for their entree, as I recall. It was pretty good and M loved it, but I thought my lamb korma was definitely the best option on the table.
V had a tandoori chicken and seemed to like it enough. It was funny that when we were ordering, the server looked at us and said "too much food". I laughed and said "lunch tomorrow!", when I of course thought in my head "we fully intend to stuff ourselves tonight!". He replied with that cute sideways head thing that Indian men do when they are thinking "yes" or "I agree" and took our order back to the kitchen to get the food started.
In a funny moment, J was eating her breaded vegetarian entree and chuckled when she realized that she was not only eating her food, but the sheet of paper that they had served it on. Mmmm paper. Alas, whatever spice was present in her food didn't set her loins on fire, because baby D didn't come around until a few days later. Said baby D is adorable, by the way. Can't wait to meet her.
As for Tandoor e India, there is actually a second location over by the 7-11 in Long Branch that's right by the Wind Mill. I miss seeing the owner Balwinder at the Oakhurst location because I understand that he's usually in the Long Branch restaurant these days. Must get over there soon, but either way, they can count on us for take out at least once every couple of weeks.