At Savoury, Indian Food Gets Health-conscious

Article By Joy Chiang Ling
Photo credit Niko

Savoury is an Indian restaurant located at 489 Columbus Avenue in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The restaurant is owned by Abishek Sharma, the son of the restaurant’s chef, Lala Sharma. Together, this father and son duo has been introducing Indian food to the taste buds of many people in New York City.

Spiced Okra

The Sharmas’ culinary style is influenced by Western and Southern Indian cooking. Motivated by a desire to serve healthy food to its customers, its menu proudly proclaims that no trans fats are included in any of its recipes. Customers will also be pleased by the wide variety of vegetable dishes, as well as some of the restaurant’s lamb, chicken and goat specialties. Health-conscious diners are able to enjoy flavorful meals and feel guilt-free while doing so.

The restaurant’s interior includes a lounge furnished with booths, cushions, a cocktail bar and a dining area large enough for parties. It is relatively large compared to other Manhattan restaurants, and contains a warm ambience with its low, yellow lights and modern, Indian-inspired decorations.

Abishek Sharma and wife

Abishek Sharma, who is present at the restaurant nearly every day, is often seen greeting customers warmly and settling them down with a glass of water and menus. Waiters at the restaurant are patient and courteous, and eager to recommend dishes from the menu. For starters, they suggested Lasuni Gobi, a vegetable dish that contains crispy cauliflower tossed in tangy garlic tomato sauce. They also suggested crab cakes and baby lamb chops, which were lightly dressed in a mildly spicy sauce.

Lasuni Gobi

The Lasuni Gobi is a crispy dish that turns the otherwise bland cauliflower into a zesty and flavorful vegetable. The crab cakes, meanwhile, were served with mint chutney, which helped add a savory taste to what seemed like a particularly finely grounded crab cake. The baby lamb chops were meaty and marinated with a blend of delicious spices.

baby lamb chops

For the main course, we were given Spiced Okra, Kerala Pepper Chicken and a mixture of kebabs. Okra is a vegetable often served in curry. It has a slimy texture and a slightly tart and bitter taste that not everyone will be immediately accustomed to. At Savoury, the Okra is sautéed with tomatoes, onions, garlic and kokum, which makes the okra taste less bitter and more tangy.

Kerala Pepper Chicken

The Kerala Pepper Chicken was cooked with fresh green chilies, ginger and curry leaves. Its spiciness was uncharacteristically mild. The owner explained that they often tone down the spiciness of their dishes in order to appeal to the customers around the area, most of whom are unable to tolerate the intensity of Indian cooking. But, he also explained, “if a customer requests a really spicy dish, we will make it really spicy for them.”

Chicken Tikka, Tulsi Kebab, Chicken Ginger kebab and Nawab Kebab

The final main course consisted of Chicken Tikka, Tulsi Kebab, Chicken Ginger kebab and Nawab Kebab. Chicken Tikka are boneless pieces of chicken marinated and cooked on a skewer in tandoor. Tulsi Kebab consists of chicken breast marinated with fresh basil, yogurt and Indian spices. The Chicken Ginger Kebab contains chicken marinated with fresh ginger, herbs and spices. The Nawab Kebab is minced lamb mixed with aromatic herbs, cooked on a skewer in a clay oven. Of all the kebabs, my favorite was the Tulsi Kebab, because the fresh basil and yogurt lent it a strong and unique flavor.

Garlic Naan

All of this food was served alongside Mango Lassi and Garlic Naan. Lassi is a refreshing yogurt drink that can be consumed to dull the spiciness of food. Savoury serves Lassi in four varieties: plain, salted, sweet and mango. The mango flavor is popular due to its refreshingly sweet flavor. Garlic Naan, meanwhile, is a famous Indian bread that is topped with chopped garlic. It goes great with curry, but also tastes good alone.

fig ice cream

And finally, for dessert, we had fig ice cream – something that none of us have ever had before. Three scoops were served on a plate and drizzled with mango syrup. The ice cream itself contained the seeds of actual figs, and had a very subtle sweet flavor to it. The mango syrup complimented it well, in both taste and design.

crab cakes

Overall, the dishes at Savory are both visually appealing and flavorful. Abishek and Lala Sharma are clearly passionate about their food, and have managed to expose a diverse audience to their cooking. This is clear from the many different kinds of people that have visited the restaurant while we were there. In addition to Indians, there were also people of many different ethnicities who came to experience the pleasures of Indian food. Savory is well worth a visit for people who want to broaden their palate, or simply want to enjoy good Indian cuisine.

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