Goat Brains Masala at Indika

Indika, the high-end Indian restaurant on Lower Westheimer, serves tandoori chicken, slow-cooked baby goat, grilled paneer and mulligatawny soup, along with kicked-up versions of crabmeat samosas, seared foie gras with onion masala and tandoori quail. But the dish almost every write-up of Indika mentions is the "goat brains masala." I've noticed, though, that a very few actually offered a first-person description of eating it.

The American diner's traditional aversion to organ meat, with the possible exception of liver, is well-documented. But that's beginning to change with the influx of truly authentic international cuisines, most recently the "nose-to-tail" dining trend that originated in the UK and is practiced with great fanfare locally at Feast.

Having never eaten brains of any variety before, I decided to take the plunge. The full dish is described as "goat brains masala, sprouted lentil and cucumber salad, millet roti." The presentation of the dish is appetizing, if not a little intimidating. A glop of brain "meat" coated in a wonderfully fragrant paste of red masala is offset by a salad of freshly-sprouted lentils, cucumbers and tomato chunks.

Serving goat brains with a masala paste is a South Asian tradition. The brain itself has the texture of a thickly congealed custard, yellow in color, with a meaty flavor and a slightly metallic aftertaste.

To be honest, if this dish were served to American diners without them knowing it contained goat brains, many of them probably would enjoy it. But since pigs ears and trotters are just being introduced to the mainstream, brains may be a long way off.

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