Keen on our quest to try more Indian food, the hubby and I headed over to Sitar one Friday night. Located on Jordan, just north of the 565, it's part of the long channel of restaurants serving the lunch crowds from the Arsenal, UAH, and Research Park. The dinner crowd kept the restaurant about half full which allowed things to move at a nice leisurely pace.
We were promptly seated and given menus. Before our server had even made it over to take our drink orders we found ourselves facing down an appetizer of papadum and dips.
The papadums were thin crunchy lentil breads with the bits of lentil easily visible. They had a hint of spiciness to them, but nothing that would perturb any but the most mild of palates. The papdums were served with two dips--one green, one red. The green sauce had a sweet, peppery flavor, while the red sauce appeared to be marinated onions. The red sauce was a bit spicier and brought out the flavor of the onions in a way I found to be a bit sinus clearing. The hubby thought it was fantastic. I enjoyed both sauces and the papadums as stand alone items but paired together I found the sauces fought with each other and overwhelmed the milder lentil bread entirely.
While snacking on the appetizer, we had managed to place our orders and soon things began arriving. I had opted for a House Specialty which is a combination diner consisting of soup, naan, rice, chicken tandoori, lamb rogan josh, and vegetable korma. I knew it would be far more than I could eat in one sitting but it sounded like a fantastic way to try multiple dishes at once. They gave me my option of spice levels and I rather cautiously ventured "Medium?". My husband was much more enthusiastic about selecting medium for his Chicken Tikka Biryani.
My mulligatwany soup came up first.
The soup was made of a thin broth with a strong flavor of cilantro. This definition of "medium" was on the absolute edge of my tolerance. The texture of the soup was provided by cilantro leaves, bits of tomato and small lentils giving a slightly granular consistency. However, it was tasty and I happily finished it off.
Our main courses arrived shortly afterward and I had the "kid-in-the-candy-shop" reaction of not knowing where to start!
Starting on the left and traveling clockwise around the photo above we have the lamb rogan josh, the basmati rice, and the vegetable korma. The lovely red chicken in the center is the chicken tandoori.
The lamb rogan josh featured flavorful fall-apart tender lamb in a lightly spicy tomato cream sauce. I'm not sure of the spiciness of the dishes is simply different (ie: a medium mulligatwany is always spicer than a medium lamb rogan josh) or if the spice levels tend to run bit wild but I found this dish to be easily mild instead of medium.
The basmati rice was lightly oiled with small seeds interspersed and had the light, fresh taste of rice. It provided a nice compliment to the heavier sauces of the lamb rogan josh and the vegetable korma.
The vegetable korma was more truthfully a medium spiced dish and was my favorite of the spread. Although the vegetables looked suspiciously like a frozen veggies mix (square bits of carrots, peas, lima beans...) the sauce was stellar. Lighter in color than the tomato cream sauce of the lamb rogan josh, it also had more of a nuanced flavor.
The chicken tandoori was moist without being greasy and fall apart tender. The flavor was mild in spiciness but well distributed throughout the meat.
The naan was outstanding. Pillowy soft and thick while still being light and airy, it had been lightly brushed with oil and given a dusting of salt. I could happily eat this every day.
My husband was enthusiastic about his Chicken Tikka Biryani (shown at the top of the post), declaring it just the right level of spicy. It came served with a yogurt sauce which he felt was a good compliment.
We will absolutely be back to Sitar. The food ranged from solid to outstanding and the service was unwaveringly prompt, friendly, and courteous. We both had leftovers and I easily made three meals from my one special. I appreciated the variety of combination dinners which make it easy get an introduction to the cuisine. I imagine the buffet at lunch serves a similar purpose and I plan to head over given the first opportunity.
Total for the meal: $36.61 (Includes one combination dinner, one biryani dinner, and two drinks).
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