A trio of soups including mulligatawny kicked off the meal
This is now my second time dining at local Indian restaurant IndeBlue on 13th Street, (205. 13th Street, tel 215 545 4633).
In the first encounter with this chi-chi Indian I was treated to a meat thali one lunch time. A thali is like a smorgasbord of small dishes clustered around a pile of basmati rice and served with naan bread and chutneys on one huge circular plate.
Think of a larger and more filling version of a japanese bento box!
A thali in all its glory
Just looked it up on Wiki and apparently the word “thali” actually stands for “plate” in Nepali.
On my first visit the thali included a goat curry – to which I am particularly partial – but I believe that lamb or beef is probably more usual. The lunch hit the spot and persuaded me that we should return to the restaurant one evening and sample IndeBlue’s more extensive dinner menu.
Restaurant Week in Philly provided the perfect opportunity for encounter number two. I went with a group of friends, which meant we could try practically everything that was on the Restaurant Week menu. Rather than run you through the entirety of the meal, which was quite splendid, here follows the highlights:
This jalapeno martini was fiery but delicious.
“Drums of heaven” are aptly named
The spicy chicken drumsticks are called “drums of heaven” and they certainly were. They are a riff on bbq chicken drumsticks served with crumbled blue cheese and a garlic chili sauce.
These scallops in spicy broth were almost as good as the seafood curry with coconut, which I picked for my main meal.
The dish came with three scallops – we fought over the last one!
This seafood moilee, which included crab meat and large shrimp was served with lemon rice.
This curry featured mustard seed, coconut, curry leaf and more…
Dessert which can be a little stodgy in Indian restaurants generally, was a pleasant surprise to all. It included an orange ginger sorbet, which we didn’t try; a fig duo compromising home made fig ice-cream and a fig tartlet; mango panna cotta (see below) and banana nirvana, a sort of banana fritter topped with salted caramel and house-made vanilla cinnamon ice-cream.
The mango panna cotta was heavenly
At the end of the meal, I prised the chef Rakesh Ramola, out of the kitchen to ask him how he concocted such an interesting array of dishes, for example, where did the idea for the osso bucco pork vindaloo come from? (I didn’t try this time, but will do on my next encounter!).
Rakesh hails from Mumbai, but came to Philadelphia via London where he prepared Indian delicacies for two of the top international foodie spots in London: Harrods and Selfridges. After working for a number of years in London, he moved to Collingswood and opened his first IndeBlue restaurant there (619 Collings Ave, Collingswood). None of these tidbits answer the above question, however, – why are osso bucco and panna cotta on the menu? Perhaps the answer may have something to do with the fact that Rakesh is married to an Italian. Also, the more you understand about Indian cuisine, the more you are astounded by its depth and range. Goan cuisine calls on the Portuguese kitchen; Keralan food is dominated by seafood; Pondicherry was influenced by the French and of course there is the Imperial Raj Kitchen with its anglo-flavors and ingredients. India is a melting pot of cusines and influences and this is represented perfectly in IndeBlue’s eclectic menu.
This is by far, the best Indian restaurant in the city.