This week's review takes us to one of my new favorite places for Indian food — Swad Restaurant. Swad is located on the north end of town, in the area of Lamar Blvd and Rundberg Lane. They serve up some the best vegetarian and vegan food in town.
"What, no meat?" you ask. That's right, no meat whatsoever, and you will not miss it. Like a couple of other places in town, Swad serves food that is commonly associated with the street food sold in India, as opposed to the more traditional restaurant fare that most of us may be acquainted with. The result is food that is not only delicious, but that is rather easy on the wallet as well. Here is some of what we have sampled thus far at Swad.
Samosas. The gold standard of just about any Indian/Pakistani restaurant are their samosas. Samosas consist of a pastry filled with (in most cases anyway) spiced potatoes, onions, and peas. The filling can be either spicy or mild and is wrapped inside of the pastry, and then deep-fried in vegetable oil until golden brown. The result is a crunchy exterior and spicy, flavorful and soft interior. How does Swad measure up to this standard? Their Samosas are some of the best in town and come served with a sweet and spicy tamarind mint chutney. I usually recommend this dish to anyone not familiar with Indian food. All of the ingredients are familiar to most of us, but the flavor profile is just exotic enough to provide a new experience.
Next we tried the aloo tikki. One important thing to know here is that the word aloo is the word for potato. So any dish that uses this word will obviously contain potatoes. In the case of aloo tiki, you are served two potato patties smothered in a curry made with tomato and garbanzo beans and finished off with parsley. The overall flavor reminds me a bit of chili with the garbanzos substituting for the usual pintos, or red beans. This dish also comes served with a sweet chutney and fresh onions on the side.
Finally, we tried the mysore dosa (a type of crêpe made with rice and lentil flour). The dosa is huge, it has to be a good 12 inches across when folded. This particular crêpe is also spiced with ginger. The result is a very tart and aromatic crêpe, which complements the spiced potatoes perfectly. The potatoes are mixed with sautéed onion and spiced with turmeric and other spices. Also included is a cup of sambhar, a type of traditional vegetable soup made with lentils and a tomato broth. It is a bit on the spicy side so be careful if you have a sensitive tongue.
Swad is certainly one of the better Indian/Pakistani restaurants in town and comes highly recommended.
The Austin Food Junkies are Alex Artibee, Matt Braley and Dave Braley, "Two guys who love food, and one chef, trained at the Texas Culinary Institute." Check out their reviews of other Austin area restaurants on their blog, Austin Food Junkies.