Rhonda On The Prowl: Spicing It Up At Sitar Indian Cuisine

Monday, February 8, 2016 - by Rhonda Tuggle

It was a night to spice things up. Because our neighbors, Frankie and Deb, previously professed to Flash and me their love of Indian food, we arranged a double date at Sitar Indian Cuisine. 

“Our other friends are afraid to try it with us,” Deb said as she, Frankie, Flash, and I entered the royal red dining room. 

Located at 200 Market Street, the restaurant inhabits the part of downtown where Tennessee Aquarium tourists, Market Street Bridge bicyclers, and Majestic 12 moviegoers rule the sidewalks.

The Indian waiter with a thick, quick accent sat us at a booth near the back. It was Wednesday night and not too many people occupied the other tables. But those who were dining-in were Indian. 

“A good sign the food is authentic,” Flash said after scanning the room.

The waiter brought out a plate of papadum – thin, disc-shaped lentil crackers served with two types of chutney, mint and onion. He then went behind the bar to prepare the bottle of white wine Deb requested for the table. In the meantime we snacked on the salty papadum topped with the salsa-like chutneys. 

A few minutes later the waiter returned with the wine cradled in a big ice bucket, a white washcloth tied around the neck of the bottle. 

“What nice wine service,” Deb said, playfully mocking the excessive presentation.

The waiter then brought out our appetizers of chicken pakora and tandoori. The pakora ($3.95) came with six pieces of grilled chicken fried in ground chickpea flour. The tandoori ($7.95) sizzled in an assortment of chicken, lamb, and shrimp mixed with onion and bell pepper.

Not until we finished the appetizers did the waiter take our order for the main meal. Deb – a superb cook who describes herself as a “foodie” and whose judgment I trust when it comes to good tasting grub – ordered for the table.

First she asked for the Special Combination for Two ($31.95), substituting the mulligatawny soup for keema naan (minced lamb stuffed bread). Then she ordered Chana Masala ($9.95): chickpeas cooked Punjabi style. Lastly, Deb said we had to try the Bhindi Masala ($10.95): stewed okra stuffed with exotic spices.  

When the waiter finished writing everything down he asked, “Spice level?” 

“Mild plus,” Frankie and Deb cried at the same time. When the waiter left they told us one time they ordered everything at a medium spiciness and could hardly swallow because the food was so hot.

I didn’t know where to start when the food came out. The combination platter included seekh kababs, chicken tikka, lamb rogan josh, basmati rice, and naan bread. I liked the lamb rogan josh most – how it came stewed in a traditional Indian sauce. The keema naan and stewed okra also dazzled my taste buds. The curry powder in some dishes complimented the sheer spice in others. The warm breads mixed wonderfully with the various sauces. 

The four of us passed around each dish, filled our plates full with the rich cuisine. When it was all said and done we split a bill of $96 before tip. “Not bad for a bottle of wine, two appetizers, and three entrees,” Flash said.

“I’m so glad we finally have friends who will eat Indian with us,” Deb said as we exited the royal red Sitar.       

Location: 200 Market St
Hours: M-Th  11 am – 2:30 pm; 5 – 10 pm
Fri       11 am – 2:30 pm; 5 – 10 pm
            Sat-Su 11:30 am – 3 pm; 5 – 10 pm

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