Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Indian restaurant Nalanda

On June 6th, hubby and I went out to dinner at an Indian restaurant. We tried a new place named Nalanda in Sakata city of Yamagata prefecture. The restaurant was about 70 km away from our home and it took us 1.5 hours to reach there by our car. The road we used ran parallel to Japan Sea and we got a superb view of the Sea many times during our car ride. It was a sunny warm day and we enjoyed the car ride immensely.
Indian restaurant Nalanda

The restaurant was very clean with twelve counter seats and eight table seats. There was an open cooking area behind the counter seats where the chef made all the curries. In addition, there was a specifically built windowed ‘naan room’ for us to watch as the chef made hot naan breads. There were too many choices on the menu and so it was challenging for us to decide what to order off the menu as everything sounded good. Finally, hubby ordered a set menu named ‘Maharaja curry’ with saffron rice. I ordered a set menu named ‘teen curry’ with naan bread. We also ordered Indian drinks lassi and mango juice.

Maharaja curry was basically a chicken korma curry with lots of crushed onion paste. It was delicious but rather oily. Hubby liked the spiciness and hotness of the curry, which was just perfect for his palate. But when I tasted it I started sweating, my mouth was on fire, and my stomach was in pain. It was extremely hot!! I mean the curry was not that spicy but had a lot of chili pepper powder. However after tasting it once, I wanted to eat it again! It was delicious though very hot. Lassi was very effective drink in neutralizing the taste buds gone wild due to the hot curry.
Maharaja curry and saffron rice set

Hubby tasting Maharaja curry

Hubby eating Maharaja curry and saffron rice

‘Teen curry’ means three kinds of curry and not curry meant for teenagers! ‘Teen’ is the Hindi word for three. The three kinds of curry were Maharaja curry, vegetable curry, and mutton curry. Vegetable and mutton curries were milder than Maharaja curry. All the three curries were very delicious and it was fun to eat various curries with different levels of hotness and spiciness. Naan bread was very soft, chewy, and flavorful. This set menu had chicken soup and vegetable salad also. I relished eating the food very much. However, teen curry set had a very large portion of food and I could eat only half of it. Hubby enjoyed eating the rest of it.
Teen curry set

Naan bread of teen curry set

Chicken soup and vegetable salad of teen curry set

Our dinner

Hubby tasting naan bread

After dinner when we came out of the restaurant, I noticed that the restaurant advertisement banner had an image of an elephant as a motif! Nalanda is the name of a place in India and does not mean elephant. In fact, I have noticed and often wondered why the advertisement banners for most of the Indian restaurants in Japan usually features an image of an elephant. It is not a national animal of India. May be it is the effect of the movie ‘Indiana Jones’! Ha ha ha…In fact I have never seen an elephant in my entire life time in India, except once in a zoo and another time in a sightseeing place in Delhi.
Advertisement banner of Nalanda restaurant with an image of elepahant head

Image of an elephant head at the restaurant front (top) and an elephant toy inside the restaurant (bottom)

Spices and fragrance, the essence of Indian food, usually lifts my spirit up. The quality of food in Nalanda restaurant was very high. Hubby and I relished eating the hot and spicy food, which was a fingerlicious experience. We were really full, and I dozed off in the car while returning back home.


Alison said...

Nice post and as well as very interesting, it made me laugh - teen curry, elephants... 70km round trip drive for a curry sounds a long way, but I've done similar times (although not distances) myself by train! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

Yasu said...

Thank you for your interesting post about the curry restaurant. It is good that you both enjoyed the curry there.

I don't know why Japanese people associate India with images of elephants, but we do. (I do too.) True, when I went to Goa, India for my business, I did not see any elephants.., although I saw a lot of street cows in the city.

By the way, I have been always wondering how Indian people feel towards the quality of "Japanese curry" (I believe that this particular restaurant offers Indian curry only.) What do you think of "Japanese curry"? Tell us about it.

Kazuo Nagata said...

I want to eat Jogmaya-fish-curry and Bhandari-chicken-curry.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Alison for your comment. Yeah, it was a long trip....

Hubby and I live in the countryside and we usually travel about 55 km (one way)to go to Akita city for our weekend purchasing/shopping. So driving up to the Indian restaurant was 15 km more than our usual driving distance, which was not really tedious for hubby.

I am enjoying living in inaka (countryside)!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Yasu for your comment. Yeah we really liked the curries, though one of the curries was too hot for me!

Cows!! Yeah , we all get to see many cows in India:) Indians are generally very religious and cow is considered a God in Hindu religion. So we can see herd of cows royally sleeping on the roads or crossing the roads. Often traffic comes to a standstill due to this. Once the bus I was travelling was delayed due to cows and I became late for one of my final exams during Masters course. I was given additional 40 minutes to write the exams!!

The very first time hubby went to India, he was rather excited to see many cows and he took lots of photos of them!

I love Japanese curry very very much. I usually make it about once in a fortnight. But again I have lived in Japan almost one-third of my life, so my views may be very biased as I love Japanese food. However, I would like to add here that I had Japanese curry in a restaurant on the third day of my arrival in Japan, and either my boss or colleagues explained to me that it was 'kare-rice'. Although I had liked the taste, however I clearly remember even now that I actually could not correlate it to 'curry' at all. May be other Indians (new to Japan)feel the same, though I am not sure.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Kazuo. I too wish to eat fish and chicken curries. I would like to eat Runa-chicken-curry, dahl-curry, eggplant fry, and tomato chutney! Still remember the taste!