Da Tandoor Indian Restaurant

Da Tandoor is an Indian restaurant nestled on what locals refer to as “antique row” on Fort Street. Inside this little eatery, ornate wooden screens, cheery red tablecloths and sumptuous hanging tapestries create a sense of warmth and intimacy.  Heavenly aromas waft from the kitchen – a harbinger of good things to come!

All diners at Da Tandoor are served with a complimentary plate of crispy poppadoms accompanied by velvety chutneys and toothsome, thinly sliced pickled onions (these are sweet and mellow – the pickling process removes the acrid bitter taste of raw onion). If you love samosas (mini pastries with fillings of potatoes, vegetables, lentils or ground meat) you are in for a treat. Da Tandoor makes the best we’ve ever tasted. They arrive at the table crispy and hot. The pillowy triangles are delectably crunchy (and this is important with a samosa), the pastry is not overly thick – just enough to encase the savoury goodness within. We sampled the beef and vegetable varieties. Both were uniformly excellent.

At Da Tandoor, there are several entrees that allow intrepid diners to sample multiple dishes at once. The Tandoori Special for example is comprised of ramekins containing individual portions of butter chicken, lamb curry, vegetable jalfrazie, dal, raita (to cool the palate), pilau, rice and a gargantuan plate of oven-warmed nan bread. Our dining companions ordered the vegetable biryani (Indian basmati rice cooked with onion, garlic, raisins, and spices, combined with mixed vegetables) and a traditional vegetable thali which included eggplant bharta, dal, vegetable jalfrazie, raita, pilau rice and nan.

All the dishes showed a deft hand in the kitchen. Flavors were robust and complex. The butter chicken, usually a rather pedestrian dish all too commonly seen on Indian menus, won me over with its deep, silky, creamy tomatoey goodness. The lamb curry was suitably palate warming with lots of sauce and tender, flavorful chunks of lamb. The vegetable biryani is a standout as the raisins and subtle spicing add an addictive sweetness. Our friend declared the eggplant bharta to be particularly good and we all loved the dal (a pureed dish of legumes such as split peas or lentils, subtly spiced).

Da Tandoor would be a great place to take friends who are intrigued by Indian food and who wish to sample more than one dish. The combination plates aren’t merely thrown together as an afterthought as each flavor stands out, and each dish is lovingly prepared. Vegetarian diners will have plenty to choose from. The menu is diverse without being dizzyingly eclectic and the service is prompt and friendly. This is a mid priced Indian restaurant and in our opinion (given the portion sizes) Da Tandoor offers excellent value for money. On a dreary winter day, warm up with a good spicy curry.  It will cure what ails you.

EAT THIS: Vegetable biryani, samosas, Tandoori Special, lamb curry, eggplant bharta, rice pudding IMBIBE: Indian beer, Chai tea

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