Essence of India

What:                 Indian Restaurant

Where:               Apalachee Pkway, Tallahassee

Good Eats:        Tandoori Chicken — If you’re not familiar with Indian food, you may think that meat baked in a clay oven would be dry and charred but for those of us in the know, tandoori chicken may be one of the best dishes India has to offer.  Named after the tandoor (clay oven that also bakes India’s national bread, ‘naan’) Tandoori is any meat marinated in yogurt and seasoned w/ a tandoori masala (a type of Indian spice blend) with differing levels of heat.

The tandoors are bell-shaped, set into the earth and fired with wood/charcoal with temperatures reaching up to 480 degrees.  The objective is to make the meat crispy on the outside yet tender, juicy and flavorful inside.

The cayenne pepper, red chili powder or kashmiri red chili powder is what gives it that distinctive red hue.  Alternatively, turmeric can be added for a more orange tint and some even go so far as to use food colorings.

Now I’ve consumed a lot of tandoori chicken in my day but Essence of India ranks up there highly (top three).  Their dishes come in half (5-6 pieces) to full (which one presumes is double that) and are served on cast-iron plates.  The tandoori chicken is succulent, spiced to your wish (mild, medium or hot), lays on top of a bed of onions and peppers and is accompanied by a plate of basmati rice.  The times I’ve been only once did they offer an additional tandoor sauce which, thankfully, is not needed.

Sorry that this isn’t the full dish (my friend had consumed half of it by this time) but it gives you a good idea.

So far, this is the best dish that Essence has to offer.  The price (~$12-15) is decent but stay away from the goat curry!


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