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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cardamom Hill- WOW

Warning:  The following may not be suitable for children under 13 or those who have preconceived notions regarding Indian food.

Cardamom Hill was an absolute delight.  If you are looking for delicious food, knowledgeable wait staff and a unique experience go no further than Northside Drive and 75. 
So our dinner group, dubbed “The Dry Rub 4,” reunited last week for what turned out to be my favorite meal since we started our endeavor!  Thankfully, Leslie was the first one there and told them that a relatively famous local food blogger was coming!  How disappointed they must have been when I showed up, though we got amazing service. Paymon was an amazing server and Omar Powell, the Head Chef, gave us a literal geographic and culinary “tour” of our meal.

We learned that we were enjoying “regional” Kerala Indian Food.  Those looking for a simple play on Curry need not come.  So if you have a predisposition regarding Indian Food, do not worry, this is not what you think it is.  Much like when Stallone made “Copland.”

My favorite part of the meal came first.  Egg Appam is rice coconut crepe with a poached egg in the center with black pepper.  There is an "option" to add chili grilled shrimp.  IT IS NOT AN OPTION, GET THE DAMN SHRIMP.  

This is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever had.  Even better, it’s like nothing I’ve ever had before.  Thankfully, we didn’t blow our wad with the Egg Appam (with all due respect to the Hedge Hog who is battling for his life right now)

Our second course we ordered a Vegetable Plate with root veggie varraka (a stir-fry with yellow lentils), beet pachadi, sambar (south Indian Stew according to Omar) and a rice pilau.
We also ordered the spicy fish curry (talapia) with kodampulli, Malabar smoked tamarind (a regional specialty) served over rice with a veggie thoran (a coconut flecked stir fry).  Both were flavorful and masterfully prepared.

Our 3rd course we order Pork Vindaloo, which is pork shoulder slow cooked in a vinegar-tinged sauce served with a rice coconut crepe.  The vinegar sauce was to die for.
We also ordered the Spiced Oxtail.  It’s braised with star anise and cinnamon with a spiced yucca mash.  The Oxtail literally fell off the bone.

My #2 highlight of the meal was the Chicken Rice Biryanis.  Think paella with a serious attitude.  It’s a spiced rice with cashews, raisins and cilantro.   So Omar came out and explained that each meat is prepared with a different sauce.  The chicken came with a yogurt saffron curry. 

Omar told us the inland local favorite in West India is the goat.  So he goes back to the kitchen and comes out with the goat version “on the house.”  The goat was simmered in a mint with cilantro and green chili masala and was incredible.  This is my first (and hopefully not last), food blogger “I’m kind of a big deal” moment. 

Overall, I couldn't recommend a place more than Cardamom Hill.  I implore you to go and enjoy.  You're welcome.  Apparently they are also famous for their Fried Chicken, but to experience the true Indian cuisine, we abstained.  Plus, I'm afraid Leslie might punch me.

Updated April 19th, 2013:

Today I broke down and had the Fried Chicken and Waffles. And it was as good, if not better, as I've heard.  The spice was perfect, not too hot but flavorful.  The waffle sauce was delicious and packed quite a punch as well.  Things got a little awkward when BMac tried to wipe down the waiter, but that's a story for another time.  It's a great lunch dish, particularly hungover.  In fact, my friend MB was so hungover, she had a complete conversation with herself and made zero sense.  It reminded me of a homeless person, only without the odor.

The Colonel would be either proud, or more likely embarrassed.  I will guarantee this, you've never had a dish quite like it.  Please forgive me Leslie.

Today’s Footnotes:  My love for Indian food starts and ends with my man Ajay and his family.  I've made my wife suffer through many homemade Indian Meals thanks to his mother.  I can wait to see you guys soon.

Since we are close to Valentines Day I also wanted to share the following. I went to one of the first places I took my lovely wife 12 years ago, Marcello’s in Buckhead last week.  I went into the bathroom and found this gem hanging on the wall!  You can't make this up.

Let me ask, where are you going for Valentines Day?  My wife and I are going to The Palm.  Nothing beats a 3 pound Lobster!

Finally, I would also like to thank my readers for the over 1,000 pageviews we've had in January!  I’ve enjoyed writing  The Dry Rub and have really enjoyed the feedback received over the last 6 months.

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