Monday, March 24, 2014

Indiya - March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ

Indiya - March Restaurant Week : Collingswood, NJ 
It’s restaurant week! If any of you are New Jersey locals, you should already know about Collingswood and it’s restaurants. For restaurant week, participating locations make a special menu for the event (usually 3-4 courses) and list it at a pretty reasonable price. This is something I look forward to every year, and tonight my boyfriend and I ate at Indiya.
Normally I am adamant about my love for IndeBlue, another Indian restaurant in Collingswood NJ which is also participating in Restaurant week, but I wanted to be adventurous and try some new restaurants this year. This week Indiya is offering a 3-course meal for $22 a person.
I ordered:
  • Mirchi (Longhorn Peppers) Bhajia Classic Indian Starter- Crispy chickpea battered pomegranate & Longhorn Pepper Fritters (V)(GF)
  • Chicken "Dhaba" Curry- A delicious chicken curry made popular by the 'dhabas' - a roadside eatery -on Punjab's Highways (GF)
  • Pistachio Kulfi with Poached Blueberries- An Indian ice cream served with poached blueberries flavored with crème-de-cassis (GF)
My boyfriend ordered:
  • Spicy Corn Soup- A hearty soup with fresh cilantro, has the sweetness of roasted corn & the subtle bite of peppers. (V) (GF)
  • Fish Malai Curry- A light Bengali Fish stew, flavored with coconut, ginger and peppers (GF)
  • Coconut Sorbet- (V) (GF)

We were given these little crisps and dipping sauces before any of our food arrived. I don't think they are an official menu item, since I couldn't find them listed on their website, but they were really addicting. The chips are really light and crisp, similar to Baked Lay's or Pringles, but they are far better. As for the sauces, the red sauce was sweet and mild, while the green one was spicy and herbaceous. I enjoyed both, but my boyfriend and I really liked eating them together on our crisps. (Is that a foodie faux pas?)
I originally ordered the Mirchi Long Horn Peppers as my appetizer, which was served with the same sauces as our little crisps, but it turned out to be more than I could handle.

I was unfamiliar with longhorns peppers when I ordered, and I figured they were a spicy, but it turns out they have a similar spiciness to jalapeño peppers. I wasn't expecting that! I can handle actual jalapeños when they've had the seeds removed, but these spicy peppers were still seeded. I ate one and a half of these, and downed two goblets of water, but I couldn't finish my portion, so my boyfriend switched appetizers with me. These pepper fritters were delicious, and I wish I could have eaten more of them, but I just wasn't prepared for this level of heat. (Had I of known how spicy these would have been I would have ordered a lassi to help balance things out.)

The Spicy Corn Soup was much more my speed. It had a hint of the same peppers from my dish, but the sweetness of the corn and creamy base of the soup balanced the flavors really well. This stuff actually reminded me of Panera's Summer Corn Chowder, which uses pablano peppers, but the spice blend had more of an Indian influence. (Obviously.) I really liked this soup, but towards the bottom it got very cilantro-heavy.

I would order both appetizers again, but I would definitely order a lassi or a chai tea to help me handle the spiciness. (I felt like such a wimp.)
For our entrees, both of us picked a different type of curry. I chose a chicken curry while my boyfriend picked the fish.

When the food arrived, the presentation was really lovely. Everything came out on this long, silver, 'C'-shaped tray, which fit perfectly around the large white plates, and all of the silver bowls are decorated with ornate patterns. I haven't' seen any serving trays like this. It was really eye catching, but you do have to be careful. All of the dishes are made of real metal, so they will be hot to the touch, therefore I don't recommend touching them when they first arrive at your table.

I tried each of the ingredients on their own before combining them on my plate to make my serving. I have to say, the rice at Indiya is far better than the rice I have had at IndeBlue.

I love IndeBlue, and they make a lot of yummy food, but their rice is always on the dry side. Indiya's rice was cooked to absolute perfection! They don't give you very much rice with your dinner portion, but they do offer to bring you more once your rice-supply has been depleted. (We got some rice to take home with our left over curry.)

My chicken curry was absolutely delicious! It was well seasoned, a bit spicy, and the chicken was so tender it fell apart.
Along with the rice and our curry, we each received a little bowl of curry sauce with some kind of grain or legume in it. It was really flavorful, and filling, but I don't know what it really was. (I should have asked, but I was too busy stuffing my face. Do any of you know what that is?)

Last, but never least, it was dessert time!

My Pistachio Kulfi with poached blueberries was incredible. It was the perfect way to end my meal and I wish I had 6 more orders of it right now. The kulfi tasted a lot like the ice creams I bought from Kwality last summer, but it was garnished with slivered almonds, crushed pistachios, and these delicious poached blueberries. This dessert was cold, spiced, lightly sweet, and it cleansed my palette.

My boyfriend ordered a simple coconut sorbet, which was very coconut-y but not very sweet, and a cup of Masala Tea. He agreed that my dessert was far superior to his own, but he scooped some of his sorbet into his tea which was a really nice combination. I'm no chai connoisseur, but I think IndeBlue's chai tea is a lot better than the one was had at Indiya. This cup was very bland, it seemed to be more milk than tea, but it was still enjoyable. (Plus it helped save my mouth from some spiciness.)

Overall I really liked my meal and I will  definitely return for more. Indiya is more affordable than IndeBlue, but both restaurants have their strong points. I can now say that I am a big fan of both and they are seriously worth checking out.
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