October 11, 2011
On August 20, 2011, Linda and I dined at Amma, a small Indian restaurant which had been getting good reviews. Amma means mother in Hindi and is represented by a signature painting on the wall which watches over the wine coolers.
Amma’s website says:
“Owner Anju Sharma wanted to share something Indian and yet new in New York City. Memories of the foods she had eaten in the kitchens of her mother and her mother-in-law remained fresh in her mind. The recipes are translated with respect for home cooking and to compliment a restaurant environment.”
Our apéritif was glasses of Lunetta prosecco. We ordered the Non-Vegetarian Tasting Menu, but skipped the offered wine pairings. (There is also a Vegetarian Tasting Menu and à la carte choices.) From the extensive wine list we chose a bottle of 2008 Clos du Val Merlot, which was as good a match with the food as any.
The first course was
Crispy Fried Spinach
mung beans, potatoes, onions, tamarind and mint chutneys
The seasoned mung beans dominated this dish. The crisp spinach leaves were somewhat submerged, but this was a nice starter “salad.”
Pea Stuffed Samosa & Stuffed Mushroom
Ginger-cilantro peas in pastry; chili-cheese, potato stuffed mushrooms
The peas in the samosa were nicely spiced. The deep fried, stuffed mushroom was a strange combination that didn’t seem Indian to me, but what do I know? The tamarind and mint sauces were unneeded.
Grilled Bay Scallops in Potato Basket
Yogurt marination, red pepper sauce
Fortunately the sauce of both hot and sweet red peppers was underneath and could be used sparingly on what was a delicate dish. The crisp potato basket was a nice textural foil to the scallops.
Neelgiri Grilled Prawns
marinated with mint, coconut milk, ginger and garlic
Kasturi Chicken Kebab
strained yogurt and fenugreek marination, crispy lotus
The marinated and grilled prawn was excellent as were the crispy lotus root slices. The chicken ball had a distinctive fenugreek flavor.
With this course we received a platter of
Naan with garlic yoghurt
The naan flat breads were fresh, warm and very good The yoghurt dip had just the right touch of garlic.
Kele ka kofta
plantain dumplings in onion, tomato sauce, crispy okra salad
Tandoor Grilled Seabass
The crisp okra shards were superb. The deep frying brought out their flavor and removed any gooeyness. There was a light dressing. The marinated and grilled seabass was as it should be. The plantain dumpling seemed a bit heavy.
Tandoor Grilled Lamb Chops
sweet & sour pear chutney, jackfruit biryaani
The mound, a biryani, was cooked white rice mixed with cooked, spiced, meaty jackfruit. It had an interesting complex flavor that went well with the tandoor marinated and grilled lamb chop. Very good.
This dense, iced, mango-flavored, reduced milk dessert was a nice and picturesque finish to our dinner.
Our meal was very enjoyable. The dishes were nicely composed and progressed in a logical direction. There was a good variety of ingredients, each with its matched marinades, spices, sauces, chutneys etc, but they tended to seem more similar to me than they should due to the underlying spiciness which created a similar effect with each flavor combination. I suppose that for an Indian palate the heat brings out the flavors, but for me it is just the opposite. Nor can I easily distinguish the varied sources of the heat.
The service was always good and the pace moved along nicely.