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Infinite Combinations of Herbs and Spices at Ambadi Kebab and Grill

ambadiplateVaried and exciting, both spicy and subtle delights await you at Ambadi Kebab and Grill in White Plains. Recently purchased by Mahammad Alam, the place has been redesigned, and is serving outstanding Indian and Halal food. I first made the acquaintance of Alam at his Valhalla restaurant, Mughal Palace, when he said,” Our way of doing business is giving from your heart to everyone and do your best. “At Ambadi, the kitchen staff includes many of the chefs that cooked at Bengal Tiger which succumbed to fire several years ago. Alam said, “My wife Tangina Yesmin runs the day to day operation at Ambadi and I check in daily. I believe that quality is most important. We wish to be an integral part of the community. Our food spans India and I call it Royal Indian Cuisine. We offer dine in, take out, delivery, and catering services.”

Many things are considered when writing about a restaurant. Of course quality of the food, presentation and atmosphere are very important. At the new Ambadi Kebab and Grill, the first thing that struck me was the warm greeting each guest received from the owners, Mahammad Alam and his gentle soft spoken wife Tangina Yesmin.

Seating about 40 guests, the restaurant may be small in size but is grand in its varied menu and truly delicious prepared to order dishes. Colorful pendant lighting suspends from the ceiling, Indian music plays in the background, jewel encrusted paintings and art work of Indian scenes fill the walls and a painted carved wood screen add color to the room. On a recent lunchtime visit, the space was filled with locals enjoying their meal, as the pleasant staff attended to their needs. At the rear of the space, is a buffet offered at lunch every day from 11.30 to 3 pm. There are lunch boxes offered to go at lunch, as well.

One could easily make a meal of the glorious appetizers here. We started with mixed pakoras. These chick pea battered cauliflower, broccoli, potato and onion fritters were crisp and delicious. Nicely spiced, and served with tamarind sauce and coriander chutney they were a fine beginning. Bhel puri, India’s snack food was a tasty combination of crunchy spiced crisps and potatoes mixed with both sweet and spicy chutney…it was addictive. We then sampled the lamb kati roll. Mexico has its tacos, Greece has its souvlaki sandwiches and Ambadi has a variety of kati rolls in many forms. Our flaky paratha was stuffed with tender chunks of lamb and onion and was served with lettuce and tomato. I look forward to sampling the chicken, paneer and potato varieties. Another great beginning was the dish of jumbo shrimp and mango. Here, fresh mango, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and a blend of fragrant spices resulted in a lovely dish. The sweetness of the mango added a nice touch to the shrimp. Samosas, honey vindaloo wings, tandoori wings many chat choices such as aloo tikka chat with potatoes, yogurt, chick peas and onions are offered as well. Breads of many types are an integral part of an Indian meal. Kulcha, paratha, chapatti and poori are offered here. We savored the aloo naan stuffed with potatoes, peas and cilantro.

The cuisine of India is heavenly for the vegetarian or vegan in your group. At Ambadi, these dishes are plentiful and executed to perfection. The sag ambadicauliflowerpaneer with its homemade cubes of cheese mixed with a delicate, nicely spiced spinach sauce, might make the fussiest diner a lover of this vegetable. Okra, prepared as bhindi do paeza was excellent, as well. The slices of okra were cooked with onion, tomato, herbs and spices and were infused with the wonderful flavor of fresh ginger. The chefs here have figured out how to avoid the sticky texture that often oozes out of cooked okra. Malai kofta is another wonderful vegetarian offering. These vegetable dumplings are shaped into egg like mounds and cooked in a creamy, mild sauce enriched with cashew nuts. Yet to be tried from the 15 vegetarian entrees are mushroom sag, gobi mutter with cauliflower, potatoes and peas, baingan bhurtha, a mashed eggplant combination and dal makhani, a black lentil dish.

Many entrée emerge from the clay oven, or tandoor. Chicken, lamb, shrimp and fish arrive in all their glory when cooked this way. We enjoyed the Kashmiri style sheek kebab. Here the minced lamb is blended with herbs and spices and wrapped around skewers and roasted in the clay oven. It was excellent and went well with our shrimp biryani cooked with saffron rice, slivered almonds and ghee, an Indian form of clarified butter. There are many entrees of chicken, lamb, goat, beef and seafood, as well. We chose lamb korma with almond coconut sauce. Here, the fine quality of the lamb, shone through. The mild sauce mingled with the chunks of lamb for a perfect marriage. We also loved the Kerala fish curry. Here, large chunks of salmon were bathed in a coconut sauce enhanced with curry leaves. Shrimp Malabar, beef vindaloo, lamb rogan josh and chicken Pondicherry await our tasting.
Kulfi, kheer, glulab jamun and gajar halwa are classic desserts to complete your feast. For me, a glass of mango lassi was a refreshing way to end my meal.

At the heart of all Indian cooking is the ability to combine herbs and spices well. The kitchen at Ambadi Kebab and Grill owns this special gift.

Ambadi Kebab and Grill
141 East Post Road
White Plains
914 686 2014

Recipe: Gobi Pakoras (Serves 6 appetizers)

Oil for deep frying
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets, stem attached
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red chili powder
1 tsp. ajwain*
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. garlic paste
1 ½ cups chick pea flour
2 pinches baking powder
1 tsp. red chili powder
Pinch turmeric
About ½ cup water or enough to make batter of pouring consistency

Boil 3 to 4 cups water with 1 tsp. salt. Add cauliflower florets and remove from flame. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Drain off the water and place the florets on a clean kitchen towel Rub the florets with the chili powder, ajwain, garlic paste and ginger paste. Set aside. In a bowl mix the chick pea flour with baking powder, chili powder, turmeric and enough water to form a pouring consistency. Heat oil in a deep pot. Dip each cauliflower floret in batter and deep fry on low to medium flame until golden. Set aside. At serving time, flatten each paktor slightly and refry in medium hot oil until well browned and crisp. Drain and serve.

* Any unusual ingredient can be found at Indian grocery store

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