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Punjabi Dhaba, Inman Sq. Cambridge

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Punjabi Dhaba, Inman Sq. Cambridge

Limster | Dec 24, 2002 08:17 PM

(Caution: stuff below eaten when very hungry.)

A favorite of my labmates for good cheap Indian food.

Notable decor in this smallish order-over-the-counter spot include running Hindi movies (with the requisite colorful glittery dancing and music) and a clock that tells the time in India.

The special curry platter comes in a metal tray (metal dishes and containers are often used by Indians). A satisfying potato-filled pakora made a happy snackable first impression.

The moderate to lightly spicy chicken curry might have seemed slightly flat on first taste and the meat was average, if not a bit tough. But it was not meant to be tasted alone. Let the cool yogurt (raita) rounded off the heat and carry the spice, and allow the gingery and tangy sweetness of the chutneys to pierce the gentle glower of the curry. The flavors just naturally take to one another, blending into a single sensation greater than the sum of its parts. There's no taste of coriander or curry leaves or cardamom or cumin or ginger or yogurt or tomato or sugar or pepper or salt; there's only the taste of curry.

Similar goodness with the potato and cauliflower curry -- except that there's also vegetable sweetness there. Chunks of cauliflower are well cooked -- slightly soft, mostly firm and still offering a moderate crunch. Potatoes are good too, with a fried surface for texture and taste.

Fine basmati rice, lightly oiled and excellent wheat flavor in the naans.

A lassi was very pleasantly calibrated to a nice balance of sweet and sour.

I really enjoyed the rasmalai -- a cold dessert of stringy homemade cheese in a bath of sweet cardamom fragrant milk.

Not the zeith of Indian cooking by any means, but still soul-warming and simple. Not the place to look for refinement; hearty food with a street stall bent is what you'll find. I'd definitely drop in once in a while.

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