Sitar Indian Restaurant - Nashville, TN

I had the pleasure of eating with my good friends Mike Marsh and his wife Lori on my most recent visit to the Music City. Mike as you may know helped us out a bit on the last Avett Brothers album "I and Love and You." He and Lori offered me an extra pass to go see Jakob Dylan and I quickly jumped at the offer. This was our pre-show meal before going to the Chihuly exhibit and THEN going to go see the show. Nashville's lucky for having such a great little Indian spot on Vanderbilt University's campus.

Pakora are like fritters in southern speak. They are breaded mixtures that are deep fried with indian spices and often served with different kinds of sauces. I'm no expert and please if I'm ruining it let me know, but I like to eat mine with the mint sauce for it's bit of kick. I loved how nice and crisp the outside of these were and the onion flavor was just perfect for me.

Papadum - Thin and crispy lentil bread
These thin breads are often brought to your table before the meal along with the different sauces I spot of earlier and I'm assuming are just meant to stimulate your apetite. I love them for their complex toasted flavor and how crispy they are. One thing Sitar did great was to bring out a bunch of them so I wouldn't have to keep asking for more!

Chicken Tikka Masala/Chicken Sagwala

These were Mike and Lori's dishes which I was kind of jealous of when they came out. Then I found out that they are sharers like me. HOORAY! So i can talk about them for you in better detail than . . . "Well they looked tastey."

Chicken Tikka Masala is one of those quintessential indian dishes you should get if it's your first experience with the cuisine, it's also one you'll find yourself coming back to over and over again. It's quite well suited for western palettes because of it's creamy rich sauce and it's super moist chicken meat. Mike ordered his triple spicy so it was hot enough to give you that nice scalp sweat when you ate it.

I'd never had Chicken Saagwala before and I'm pretty sure I've found a new favorite Indian dish. Chicken saagwala is pretty much chicken cooked in spinach. The spinach giving it that nice earthy taste and the juices from the chicken flavoring the dish so well.

Allo Gobhi
Now I'm quite the creature of habit and currently I have a habit of ordering anything with cauliflower in it. I just love the stuff for some reason and I'm sure this phase will pass. In the mean time I find every reason to get some Indian food because I truly believe no one does cauliflower better. Allo Gobhi is one of my favorite cauliflower dishes because the sweetness from the cauliflower really stands in the dish while the nice and the potatoes add that nice filling weight you need in the winters. I loved how Sitar Indian Restaurant was able to capture all of that in their rendition.

I wanted to toss this photo in the end because I wanted to show you how beautiful a fire roasted bread is. Look at those raised bubbles of lightly charred goodness. Naan is like our table bread. But it comes nicely buttered already and goes so well with any of the mentioned dishes above or alone. They often come in different flavors, my favorites being the garlic naan or piswari naan which is filled with coconut, raisins, and cashews.

--Joe Kwon

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