A Delicious Spice Adventure!
January 22, 2009
by Paul Andrew Doyle of the UpBeat Times
I’m not sure how long it was that I last had the opportunity to dine at Sizzling Tandoor, but my guess was it was in early 2002. Why it took so long to return I have no idea. It was always delicious. But raising a couple of children and running this newspaper uses a up a bit of time. As I walked by three or four months ago, I decided to step inside and see if Jesse Singh was still there and to my surprise he was not and the place was entirely remodeled. This is when I met new owner and former Mechanical Engineer Vinay Patel. I told him who I was and he asked how much it was to advertise in The Upbeat Times. I gave him a few details then I said that I would be in to taste his new expanded menu.
Immediately I liked Vinay. He was courteous, friendly and had a lot to talk about. Then I said, ‘Make me your guest and I’ll write a story about you and the food.” So I was back the following week with my wife and boy what a treat. We began our meal with an appetizers (Chat-Patte Sathi). Vinay suggested the assorted Indian Snacks. This assortment is a platter of their most popular appetizers. Vegetable Samosa, Vegetable Pakoras (Bhajias). These are deep-fried fritters of garden fresh vegetables (Potatoes, cauliflower & eggplant). Part of the assortment also included Sheekh Kababs, Chicken Tikka and Papadam. Chicken Tikka is boneless skinless breast of chicken marinated in spices (garam masala) and yogurt, then grilled in the Tandoor. Oh yeah is was good!
Right after we had ordered the appetizer Vinay came up to us and asked if we would like something to drink and we suggested the possibility of wine. He asked if we would like to try some of his family’s wine, a white wine. He brought a bottle of 2002 Sawkar Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was
very nice and accompanied the appetizer and food to follow perfectly. On the front of the bottle, being an artist I noticed the lotus flower symbol. Vinay said it represented his Indian Heritage.
Valerie and I wanted to get the full experience and did we ever. We tried the two soups offered. One was Mulligatawany soup. A chicken based delicious lentil soup flavored with mild aromatic spices. Very soft and wholesome. The Dil Pasand was a very nice vegetarian soup made with fresh vegetables and followed with coliander. Already we enjoy the mixes of meats and fresh vegetables. What I noticed almost immediately was the fact that very little oils were used in the preparation of the dishes. Definitely healthy.
Of course, I wanted to try a salad, and Vinay also suggested the Kuchumber Salad. This is a Indian style mixed salad: Fresh English Cucumbers, Romaine hearts, carrots served with one of Vinay’s own dressings made of yogurt (RAITA) and chaat masala.
While the entrée’s were being prepared Vinay came over to the table and sat down with us and I asked him about how he came to this point of owning his own restaurant in Sonoma County. He began to tell me that he was born in 1963 in Ndola, Zambia and moved to Los Angeles, Ca in 1988. Graduated in 1989 with a masters in Mechanical Engineering, got married to Mohini in 1990. He then moved to Madison Wisconsin. And opened his first restaurant, India Garden. He said it was his dream for as long as he could remember to open a restaurant. He then opened another restaurant called Curry in a Hurry. I thought the title was great, very funny actually and quite creative. He then sold both restaurants and moved to Santa Rosa. He took over Sizzling Tandoor in 2004 and remodeled it January 2007.
By this time he started the main dishes came. This is where the Tandoor comes in… in full force. Vinay brought us the Tandoori Mix Grill. An assortment of the most popular tandoori grilled specialties: Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Sheekh Kabab, Fish Tikka & Shrimp. Oh boy, now we were starting to fill up a bit but then came the Murgh Tikka Lababdar. We really loved this one. Tandoor grilled boneless skinless chicken breast pieces, simmered in a creamy-tomato sauce with a subtle flavor of coriander, nutmeg and a trace of Mace. It is considered very bold an entrée with lots of whole and ground spices. Spectacular actually!
It wasn’t complete until the desert came…we were a bit hesitant to eat moor but Vinay and Mohini both said we must try some. They proceeded to bring a bit of everything: Gulab Jamun(deep fried fritters in a dark syrup), Malai Kesar Pista Kulfi(A handmade ice cream made on the premises), Kulfi(a mango Indian handmade Ice cream) and fresh grapes.
By now I was content and very relaxed and felt as though I was a guest of honor. I can’t tell you anymore…you’ll have to go there and get the full experience. There are well over a 100 dishes to try all created by Vinay. See their ad on the bottom of this page for more information. Tell Vinay & Mohini Paul from the Upbeat Times suggested they come to taste wonderful meal and delightful hospitality.