Friday, May 11, 2007

INDUS VALLEY is intriguing Indian on NY's Upper West Side

I've been in NY for a quick weekend and searched for a new spot to dine and may have found a star. INDUS VALLEY is not centrally located, unless you happen to be on the Upper West Side. At 2636 Broadway (at the corner of 100th Street), it's bit out of the way for Lincoln Center, but worth the quick subway detour several stops, since the Indian cuisine is superb, if the service a bit lackluster.

I was greeting by a hostess in sari and jeweled glittery slippers (who never stopped chewing gum all evening) and the male wait staff are all well dressed and courteous. I only felt they were not were not very interested in me, what I chose or ate, or much else for that matter; there was sense of aloofness I somehow felt. The traditional chutneys arrived with some crunchy flatbread (I forget the name) and I opted not to fill up on the wonderful breads one can order at Indian restaurants. I started with the ALU CHAT (chat is a mixture of dry mango powder, rock salt, dry ginger, pepper, crushed pomegranate seeds, mint leaves, Bishop's leaves, caraway seeds, nutmeg, cloves and asafoetida). My version was BOILED DICED POTAOTOES and CHICK PEAS with a Tangy Chat Masala, Fresh Lime Juice, Mint, Tamarind and Fresh Coriander. It was the perfect opening salad on a warm evening after a rush in from the airport. I cooled down since the dish was not hot, but the spice was superb; not intense or lingering at first (more mango chutney-like indeed), then it stays with you the more you eat. I LOVED IT. A glass of house PINOT GRIGIO was the perfect foil for the mild spices and fruit.

My entree was the COCHIN SHRIMP CURRY which was also not spicy but a creamy Yogurt & Lime Curry in Onion-Based gravy with Black Peppers, Garlic, Curry leaves, Mustard seeds and fresh coriander. There were six medium size shrimp over a bed of fragrant Jasmine Rice that actually beautifully presented in two separate serving dishes. At first I though that six shrimp seemed too few, but I quickly realized how wrong I was as I filled up on the rich orange sauce they bathed in.

I must also add that the water is served in the most adorable of bronze metal cups and the decor is typical Upper West Side with a small bar, tables of various sizes and an enclosed glass patio which is much lighter out front and offers street and passersby views. I was indeed too full to try dessert but the superb Indian coffee was a treat as I headed to the opera.