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Kabab & Tandoor, Hyderabad in Waltham

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Restaurants & Bars 1

Kabab & Tandoor, Hyderabad in Waltham

MichaelB | May 7, 2004 06:41 PM

After having walked by this place about a hundred times, I finally had enough time and intrepid spirit to check it out. The outside is forbidding in a way -- white curtains kept closed, so you can't really see the inside, although their signs have gotten more inviting since I first saw them.

In any case, this place definitely redefines hole-in-the-wall. I walked in and there were two tables (there are 3 2-tops and 3 4-tops, I think, although restaurant jargon hardly seems to apply here) of people -- mostly Indian -- eating, a buffet against the far wall, and no staff to be seen. I stood there for a minute, then decided to just sit down and pretend to look cool. At about the same time a woman came out and asked me "buffet?" I said "buffet." and she nodded and walked back into the kitchen.

So I found a plate at the buffet and loaded it up. According to an Indian co-worker, Hyderabadi cooking is heavier than most other south Indian cuisines, but also quite popular throughout India. As far as I can tell, it is quite oily, although not creamy, and generally highly spiced. Buffet items included: good basmati rice with peas, breads that looked like pitas but tasted more like an unbuttered tandoori nan -- very good for mopping up sauces. A really excellent dal, quite loose (best mixed with the rice, according to another patron) and very spicy. But not just chili heat, plenty of whole spices, curry leaves, etc. The kind of kaleidoscopic spicing that Indian food here so rarely has. I don't usually love lentils, but this was great. A very good vegetable stew/curry. Plenty hot, with shredded green beans, potatoes, really tiny pearl onions, the size of jelly beans (possibly they were something else -- I've never seen such small onions, but they tasted like very sweet little onions), and a few other vegetables that I can't identify or recall. Two chicken stews, one with a reddish spicy sauce, and one with a whiter sauce -- although not a creamy one. The red one was pretty addictive, I went back for more of that. And finally, a fairly ordinary saag (spinach) with potatoes. Also, there was a sweet -- I forget the name, but it is very thin noodles in a thick, sweet orange sauce. I actually thought it was shredded sweet potato or squash at first. I liked this a lot as well, and it was a nice break after all the spicy stuff. (None of which was overwhelmingly spicy, but it also didn't seem toned down for non-Indian tastes.)

They have several goat and mutton dishes on the regular menu, I was disappointed not to find any in the buffet. But that is just incentive to return. I'm no kind of an Indian food expert, but this reminded me of a really great home-cooked Indian meal I was lucky enough to eat last year. Most Indian restaurant food(particularly lunch buffets) that I've had around here just seems heavy and rich, without much variety in spicing (I haven't yet tried the board favorites, though -- Indian Dhaba, Punjabi Dhaba, that place next to the Helmand, etc. -- I'm more referring to the old Central Square standbys) -- this was much more interesting.

As I said, it's definitely a hole-in-the-wall, but worth exploring further. Lunch buffets can be lowest-common-denominator, so the quality of this one suggests good things about the dishes cooked to order. They're at 33 Lexington St. (about a block away from Main St., right near the end of Moody St.), open 7 days, they have the weekday lunch buffet for 6 dollars, and (according to the menu) a larger weekend lunch buffet for 10 dollars. Phone is 781-899-0022

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