Thursday, September 17, 2009
Did you know that India is the largest democracy in the world? Who knew that good eats would come with educational facts? Tarka has arrived.
It is the brainchild of the Clay Pit people, but it's a fastish-food concept. AND, it's in South Austin! It's off Brodie, in the new strip center (yes, aren't they all??) where PetSmart & Babies R Us is. If you know where PetSmart is, it's all the way down to the right, next door to Zen. They officially opened yesterday, and if today's lunch is any indication, If you build it, they will come!
I got there a little before noon, and the place was already half filled. I ordered (at the counter) the Korma with chicken, and asked for medium spiciness. They give you a table marker with a number, and bring the food out to you. So on either side of my #3 marker were fun little facts, like the one about the largest democracy, and on the flip side was the name of the Indian sage who invented the concept of the number zero back in the day. Just little things to amuse you as you wait. Fortunately, my food came fairly fast. The waitress/server politely asked if I was expecting any more food, and when I said no, she said "enjoy" and removed the number marker.
A black melamine tray & bowl held my rice and korma. The basmati rice is flavored with cardamom and cumin seeds. The korma (a flavorful cream sauce with pureed nuts, in this case, cashews, almonds & pistachios) probably wasn't quite the medium spice I had ordered, but was still really tasty. The chicken in it was extremely tender. I got a to go box for my leftover sauce & rice; I'll grill up a piece of chicken to have with these delicious remains!
The place is nicely decorated; a light mustard yellow colored walls, with saffron accents. Color pictures of Indian foods, and what looked like some market photos accent the walls. I'd say the place seats 60ish people, with different configurations of tables: some tall cocktail tables for two along the windows, another tall counter with bar chairs, perhaps for the single eater, and then some 2 and 4-top tables. I sat at one of the cocktail tables in the window, and people kept coming in. There's no other Indian food in the immediate area (in fact, the closest Indian place I know of to Brodie is Bombay Grill on Bee Caves) and, Clay Pit's reputation precedes them.
If you have read my previous post on Clay Pit, you know that I am a HUGE fan of their Khroos-e-tursh dish. Well, Tarka is serving one too. I was really really tempted to order it today, but I opted for the korma, which the Khroos sauce is based off of. My hope was to get an idea for their korma and try to find a recipe that I could enhance to be like the Khuroos, because I've never been able to find a recipe for one that sounds somewhat similar to what Clay Pit does. Certainly, on my next trip to Tarka (and I can see this becoming a bad habit!), the Khroos shall be mine!
Side note, because I don't feel like writing a whole post on it, I went to First Chinese BBQ up in the Chinatown complex for lunch yesterday. I had been once about a year and a half ago, but it had recently been recommended by some food folks I know. Their Chinese BBQ pork is outstanding. Run, don't walk!