The Huntington Village food scene just got a major infusion of spice with the opening of this lively new South Asian grill. Its draw is an affordable selection of marinated grilled kebabs.
These are hardly everyday kebabs - nor are the soups, appetizers or breads the least bit ordinary. That's attributable to the talents of Pakistani-born chef-owner Tavassum Ali, whose passion for cooking became a profession after the photography store he owned on the same site went under. Talk about blessings in disguise.
SPICE OF LIFE
A basket of irresistible naan comes hot from the tandoor; it's gratis and pairs well with a bowl of kaukswe (pronounced cow-sway), a subtly fiery Burmese soup made with coconut milk, lentil flour, chicken, vegetables and rice. Competition takes the form of a deftly spiced Mulligatawny, also lentil-based. Wedges of potato-stuffed aloo naan evoke thin, exquisitely flaky knishes.
Then, there's a mixed grill combo (available as appetizer or main course) of marinated grilled beef, lamb and chicken tikka kebabs (cubes) as well as beef, lamb and chicken seekh kebabs (spicy meat sausages). All juicy, delicious.
A sizzling platter holds a pile of succulent, flavor-intense lamb chops. Cornish hen, available half or whole, is beautifully burnished; juices run at the touch of a fork. From the looks of a salmon kebab special, I presuppose the bronze chunks will be dry. Instead, they are moist within, ingeniously spiced.
Then, there's the Indian-inspired chicken tikka masala, chunks of poultry in a vibrant crimson sauce. Saga paneer, spinach with cheese, is a casserole of creamy comfort.
The waiter brings a gratis dessert of rasmalai (cheese balls) in heavy cream. It's something I've never been partial to. Until now.
Another finale, "milk cake" is dense and leaden. And gulab jamun (fried cheese balls) are served too cold.
When food this good is so inexpensive (many entrees are less than $10 and even the lamb chops are only $17), go ahead and indulge shamelessly.
Spice Village Grill is located at 281 Main St., Huntington.