Recently, we were invited to Tulsi, an Indian restaurant located Midtown East. I quickly discovered that it was not your average Indian restaurant! First is the team in the kitchen, composed of:
- Executive Chef Hemant Mathur who is also co-owner. Chef Mathur has an impressive resume, working in restaurants such as Dévi (awarded a Michelin one-star rating in 2007 and 2008), Tamarind in Tribeca, as well as Bukhara in the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi, India.
- Tandoor Master, Dhandu Ram, who also worked at Bukhara in New Delhi, where he met Hemant Mathur.
- Executive Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni, who is also the wife of Chef Mathur, known for her incredible dessert creations, such as her Ginger Panna Cotta that was nominated one of the “Best Restaurant Desserts for 2011” by Esquire.
Then I got to meet with Vijay Rao, who is co-owner and we were taken care of by the General Manager Suneel Devgan who did a wonderful job hosting us.
The second hint that Tulsi (meaning "Holy Basil") was different was the menu: clearly not your regular one! For instance, I could not find any Chicken Tikka Masala, that is one of my favorite dishes. Instead, they serve the savory banana dumplings, sea scallops with Manchurian cauliflower & eggplant chutney or lamb chop with south Indian potatoes and peach chutney. Clearly, some mouth watering dishes and I was excited to see what we would get served!
The last important characteristic of this place is its decor: modern, elegant, but not stuffy. When you enter, you end up in the bar area (nice green lighting) with its small lounge.
Then there is the dining room.
We went early because it is the best time to take photos of a restaurant and at that time, we were the only ones, but several minutes after, people started coming and this long table you see was for instance full of patrons avid to taste that food.
We got seated in one of the "booths" that they setup, giving the impression of privacy to customers, especially those who did not understand that the only separation between them and the next table was a thin curtain.
To start off, I ordered a mango lassi.
Not too sweet and smooth, it was the perfect drink to prepare my palate and eliminate some of the heat few dishes had.
We started off with the appetizers. First, came some street food or chaat:
The first one was Avocado Jhal Muri:
It was made of puffed rice, avocado, red onion for a nice kick and vermicelli noodles. It was delicious: a bit crunchy, thanks to the rice and red onion, and smooth, because of the avocado.
The second one was Papadi chaat:
It was refreshing, with a sweet and savory taste, but I was expecting it to be a bit crunchy and did not really like the texture.
Then, we tried the Manchurian cauliflower:
I tried this dish at The Masala Wala few months ago and was thrilled to have it again. It was fantastic with its sweet and sour taste and a bit of crunch, definitely reminding me of Chinese cuisine. It was Jodi's favorite dish of the evening.
The second appetizer was Haryali chicken tikka:
The chicken, cooked in a tandoor oven was incredibly moist, tender, flavorful and had this nice char all around. I admit that I had difficulties not finishing that dish (it was only the beginning). I am often disappointed by chicken tikka because the meat tends to be dry, but it was definitely not the case there. The pieces of chicken were sitting on top of a delicious tomato chutney that gave an additional dimension to the dish.
The last appetizer was Dilli wali Aloo tikki:
These potato cakes were made, besides potatoes, of yellow split peas, cashews and raisin stuffing. It was my least favorite of the appetizers, being slightly blend if not eaten with the sauce that went with it.
At that point, I ask for a sweet lassi:
It was not as thick than I am used to and had the perfect amount of sweetness.
Then came the entrees. The first one was their signature dish: savory banana dumplings.
These dumplings were stuffed with figs and cashew, smothered in a very good sauce that was creamy and reminded me of the tikka masala sauce. It had an interesting texture that was the result of having figs in it, giving the same sensation as when you eat dried figs. The quinoa was a nice addition, having a bit of cumin in it, a flavor I do not remember having experienced in Indian food yet.
Then came another of my favorite dishes: tandoor grilled lamb chops.
It was a great dish: the lamb was perfectly cooked, with some areas covered with this nice char that I love so much in grilled meat. It was tender and flavorful, the perfect dish if you love lamb. It was served with South Indian potatoes and a nice plum chutney that added a wonderful sweetness to the overall dish.
We also tried the Mangolorean Chicken Curry that was quite spicy, but delicious with a moist chicken that I had difficulties not to eat, despite my mouth on fire:
And some Indian cottage cheese with spinach, similar to Palak Paneer:
That we ate with plain basmati rice:
as well as plain parantha and rosemary garlic naan breads that were very good and fresh.
At that point, I started to get full, but could not resist to try their desserts and was so pleased to see them bringing their Indian bread pudding!
Nice creation considering that bread pudding is not common in Indian cuisine! It was made of brioche bread that was soaked in what I believe was a sugar syrup and covered with some sort of condensed milk and nuts. That was spectacular and we definitely finished the plate! It was definitely sweet, but so good! I wish I had the recipe (wink wink!).
The second dessert was their pistachio kulfi:
It was a delicious ice cream with a subtle pistachio taste that became more prominent when reaching the middle of the pyramid, where a layer of it was present.
To help digest this feat, I ended up getting a Chai tea...
We had a good time at Tulsi: great food and great service for sure. I would definitely come back to that place to try some other dishes. They really succeeded in crafting a fantastic unusual Indian menu.
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!
Please note that I was contacted directly by the restaurant or a PR and that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!