I just had a late lunch at Ganges Restaurant, it's a vegetarian Indian place. I am an omnivore more in touch with my carnivorous side, so I'd never thought of going there until a friend recommended it as the most authentic Indian food she'd eaten in the U.S. The place was empty at lunch and we got the full attention of Aftab, the owner, who was eager to please and proud of the excellent food at the restaurant. It was clearly important to our gracious host that we enjoyed our food -- he came over many times to get our feedback. Perhaps it was because no one else was around, but I felt like I was a guest in someone's home and everything had that homecooked feel -- made fresh and with a great deal of care.
We started with samosas, which were the best I've had in SF. They had a thin crispy skin, perfectly fried and crunchy despite the fact that the skin was much thinner than what you normally get. The chickpeas and mint sauce accompanying the samosas was also good and added the right balance of wetness to the crunch.
Our main courses were matter paneer which was homemade cheese cubes with peas, a good dish, but not as much of a standout as the the Bangan Bhartha - an eggplant dish which was spicy but not overwhelmingly so. Aftab insisted that I try the dish with a bit of pickled carrot to spice it up, a great combo! We also had chana masala which was a cut above what I've had before mainly because of how fresh it tasted. The rice and chapatis accompanying the meal were freshly steamed and buttered. In addition, the owner brought us a small sampling of their dal, which was clearly made with a great deal of care and more complex with hints of nutmeg and smelled like fresh herbs.
For dessert we tried carrot cooked in milk. Which was soft, sweet and nutty, but light tasting. A very good way to end the meal.
Needless to say, I'm definitely going back there despite the fact that there is no meat on the menu. I didn't miss the meat at all! If you go you should ask him what to order. And don't forget to ask for some spicy pickled carrot as a condiment. The place is located on Fredrick right across from Kezar.
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