Aladin Indian Bistro is, as one can gather from the name, a bistro specializing in new style of Indian dining and culinary thinking. It is located at 36 Westport Avenue in Norwalk, Connecticut.
After having studied the ways people react to the complex flavors of traditional Indian cuisine; Chef Justin Joy, Consulting Chef de Cuisine Kausik Roy and owner Anjum Naveed decided to open an Indian Bistro with a cuisine which is lighter and more health conscious than “traditional” Indian, while maintaining the dramatic impact of its spices and preparation techniques. Their use of locally raised vegetables, meat and seafood is evident in their dishes.
Aladin Indian Bistro is open for lunch seven days a week from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm and dinner from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm on weekdays, 5:00 pm till Midnight on weekends. They offer a special brunch every Sunday afternoon. Their Happy Hour runs from 5:00 to 7:00 pm everyday.
Having arrived at the Aladin Indian Bistro for our complimentary tasting, we were presented with what they called a Strawberry and Ginger Mojito. It was slightly on the sweet side with a very subtle hint of ginger. However, because it was missing the muddled mint, another name would be more appropriate as it was nothing like a traditional Mojito.
As the group of us sat around chatting, we dibbled on Papadum or Papad, a thin crisp cracker made of lentils and accompanied by three different dipping sauces: Mint, Braun Tamarind, and Onion Relish. I found the Papad to be quite tasty, especially with the Braun Tamarind sauce.
Next we begun sampling what seemed like a never ending plates of Indian cuisine. Some better than others, but each offering a different, complex flavor profile and use of spices. Here we go with the list, I may have missed some dishes as there were so many and I lost track of what was being served:
Artichoke-Scallion Pakoda: roasted eggplant with Tamarind aioli
Spiced Sea Bass Pakoda: sea bass fritters with chili yogurt sauce
Baga Dal: yellow lentil flavored with cumin, curry leaves, fresh garlic, and dry chili
Signature Lamb Dampak: tender lamb cubes cooked in a copper vessel sealed with dough. The presentation was inviting and the taste was deep with flavor.
Goat Rogan Traditional: tomato curry with a hint of yogurt
Karari Bhindi: crispy okra with red onion, cilantro and green chili. This dish was the favorite of everybody at the table.
Malai Kofts: mixed vegetable dumpling in a creamy almond sauce
Kashmiri Chicken Tikka Kebab: boneless chicken marinated in Kashmiri chili, Aladin Garam Masala, or yogurt.
Tawa “Surf N Turf”: combination Tandoori kebab platter of meat and seafood
Duck Chettinad: Tandoor grilled Masala crusted duck breast, spicy peppercorn-coconut sauce, tamarind and curry leaf
SAAG: spinach greens with onions, mildly spiced and flavored with Fenugreek
Classic Chicken Curry: chicken pieces cooked in a classic curry sauce
Naan: griddled flatbread plain and with garlic. The Naan was great for dipping the curry gravy present in many of the dishes.
We also had steamed white rice with peas. For dessert we were served a Traditional Rice pudding.
During the course of the evening we were discussing curry among us at the table when Chef Roy asked us if we knew what curry was. You, just like me, always thought curry was a special spice as it is sold in stores in a spice bottle. That thought was quickly corrected by Chef Roy, who educated us to the fact that curry is a method of cooking with a blend of spices. The “curry spice” we see in the stores was created a long time ago as a way to sell a blend of spices to the people of Europe and other regions that had developed a liking to curry dishes.
As the evening wounded down, it had been educational and filling. As stated earlier, each dish often complex flavor profiles and depth.