Monday, December 15, 2014

Junoon

To celebrate my sister and my birthday, we chose to go to Junoon this year. She always wants something different from what she usually eats. She doesn't eat a lot of different cuisines. It's not that she's not adventurous. It's more that she doesn't go out of her way to explore and discover much like Mr. M&P and I. Anyway, I know that she doesn't have much experience with Indian food so I thought it would be a good idea to suggest fancy Indian food. Most people have some kind of pre-conceived notion of what Indian food is; And that's usually curry. Boring and wrong. It's so much more than that. And I for one, wanted to find out more about the cuisine too.
So we sat a very spacious table and spoke with the waiter. We asked him about the menu and what would be best to share. We went through many suggestions and ordered a good variety. But to start, the kitchen sent an amuse bouche of carrot soup with paneer. It was flavorful but light. A really nice easy start to the meal.

And now the appetizers. This is the Eggplant Chaat ($12) which was fried crispy eggplant with raita, tamarind, and red onion. I really liked this dish a lot. The baby eggplant was thinly sliced then lightly battered and fried until crispy. Then it was lightly coated with a yogurty raita sauce with sweet tangy tamarind and some spiciness from the red onion. The eggplant stayed crispy to the end. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.
And we also shared the Lamb Boti Kebabs ($20). These lamb loin cubes were nicely cooked to medium and garnished with red rice puree, brussel sprout leaves, and confit shallots. A very refined version of a popular dish.
And now the shared entrees. This is the Hyperabad Chicken Korma ($24) with tandoor roasted chicken breast in a cashew white poppy seed gravy. The chicken was a bit dry which was expected from bread meat. I wish they used dark meat but the gravy was very nice. Light though thick and well spiced and flavorful.
Along with the chicken, we also ordered the Kerala Shrimp Curry ($36). The large shrimp sat in a gravy of smoky spices with coconut milk, curry leaf, and green chili. This dish wasn't spicy but was well balanced in flavor. Tender shrimp too.
And we can't have all this delicious food without some rice to help sop up some of that delicious gravy. This is the Goat Biryani ($28) with basmati rice, almonds, cashews, and saffron. Again, really delicious. Well balanced level of spices with pieces of tender goat meat and nuts.
And because my family enjoys eating vegetables, we also ordered a side of the Brussels Matar ($19) with seared cabbage, green chili, cumin seed, tumeric, and sweet peas. This actually turned out to be the spiciest dish of the night. But it was nice to have some vegetables against the heavier dishes we ordered that night.
And of course we also wanted some freshly made bread to accompany our dinner. We shared the Garlic Naan ($6) and Onion Kulcha ($6) which were both okay. I have very fond memories of garlic naan in India but this version wasn't as fragrant. They were soft and tasty but just not memorable. Even though we though it to be just okay, that didn't stop us from plowing through the basket. We even ordered more later on. We took the advice from our waiter and ordered the Junoon Spiced Naan ($7) with mozzarella, gruyere, and house masala. This naan was really good. Light with pockets of melted cheese and spices. Really, really nice.
To go with all our food, we ordered the Trio of Chutney Tasting ($8). In this trio, we had a carrot tamarind sauce, pineapple, and coriander yogurt. The pineapple was my favorite being slightly sweet and tangy. I mixed and matched the chutneys with the dishes.
And along with all the food, the waiter brought over some yogurt to help with the heat of some of the dishes. This yogurt was loose and lightly spiced. The coolness was very nice on the dishes even though they were hardly spicy. It was just a nice accompaniment overall.
Overall, we all really enjoyed our meal at Junoon. The food was well made and delicious. It certainly wasn't spicy but more well balanced. The food was also not greasy and didn't destroy our palates. We also enjoyed the service there which was attentive and friendly. We all had a very nice time.

Junoon
27 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 490-2100
junoonnyc.com

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