New York Times Critic Pete Wells Takes a Tour of India

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Two stars for Curry Hill’s Sahib

Pete Wells sampled a taste of India.

To read this week’s New York Times restaurant review is to get a crash course in regional Indian cooking. Curry Hill restaurateurs Shiva Natarajan and Hemant Mathur have opened their fifth spot, Sahib. Their previous places have focused on various individual regional cuisines.

More than those other restaurants, one of which has closed, Sahib darts around India. Mr. Natarajan, who worked as the consulting chef, organized the menu around dishes he has been gathering in India while researching a cookbook. He isn’t trying to be encyclopedic, and the menu reflects that; it pays a little bit of attention to several regions and ignores others entirely. This makes it hard to get a firm sense of any one regional style, but easy to enjoy several dishes you may have never seen before.

There is fried eggplant, sourced from the city of Varanasi; stewed potatoes, particular to Kashmir; and rogan josh, a famous lamb dish also from Kashmir. But Wells particularly loved the attention the goat dishes received. The chicken stew of kori gassi was picked from the city of Mangalore, and the city of Lucknow offers its chicken biryani:

Made with both yogurt and milk, cooked in a pot sealed with a leaf of pastry, it’s [Natarajan’s] favorite version of this rice dish, he says. It may be mine, too.

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Wells finds little to dislike at Sahib. There are two dishes he finds lacking, but in the end, the two-star streak continues.