Chef Chat, Part 3: Kaiser Lashkari of Himalaya Restaurant

This week we have been talking with Chef Kaiser Lashkari of Himalaya Restaurant (see the rest of our chat here and here). served up the special: a cafeteria tray-sized portion of several entrées.

In the large section is basmati rice, and clockwise we have lamb korma, Indo-Chinese chili chicken, vegetable korma, and lamb kabab.

The rice, spiced with saffron shreds, makes a flavorful base for the gravy-based compartments. It doesn't get any more nuanced and flavorful than the lamb korma -- cinnamony, spicy, and aromatic. Tender chunks of lamb give easily under a fork, and a fluffy piece of naan sops up all the delicious sauce. Speaking of the naan:

It's monstrous. Fluffy and soft yet crisped by a tandoor oven, it's perfect.

For the veg lovers, vegetable korma is a hit. Peas and potatoes are steeped in a less-spicy gravy than the lamb korma, but flavorful all the same. Tomato is more pronounced here, and trust me, you'll want to sop this sauce up too.

The Indo-Chinese chili chicken was the biggest surprise. When I lived in North India for half a year, good Chinese food was one of my biggest cravings that the country just couldn't meet. If only Himalaya had been nearby! This stuff is delicious. Really tender marinated chicken is bathed in a flavor I've never tasted: Chinese-like in its dark soy sauce, but with a spicy, fire-breathing kick that's distinctly Indian. New favorite.

What looks like the mystery meat of the lunch tray is another big surprise -- lamb seekh kabab. The grilled lamb is very tender, with chunks of coriander and pomegranate seeds and sundry Indian spices.

Lashkari finishes the meal off with almond custard: a rich version of Mexican flan, something I never knew could possibly be Indian. Dense and delicious it was, though after a full meal of heavily scrumptious Indian food, I couldn't take more than a few bites. There's something about fragrant coriander breath that's hard to sacrifice for sugar.

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