Los Angeles has a new addition in Indian food, Cardamom (7233 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038; 323.936.1000 )is serving contemporary Indian cuisine. Taking over the former India’s Oven space, business partners, and brother-in-laws, Nasir Syed and Badrul Chowdhury are behind Cardamom. Syed, who began his career as a Manager at India’s Oven upon moving to Los Angeles from Bangladesh in the early 2000s, has a love and history for the space.
While Syed serves as Cardamom’s Co-Owner and General Manager, Chowdhury can be found in the kitchen, where he mans the tandoor ovens as the resident Executive Chef. Adding to the family venture is what Syed and Chowdhury have deemed their secret weapon: Syed’s uncle, Consulting Executive Chef Manju Choudhury, one of the most successful Indian restaurateurs in London.
Choudhury’s aim in creating Cardamom’s menu is to bring a version of London’s Indian cuisine to Los Angeles and he travels to India several times a year to purchase premium whole, fresh spices, which he then grinds directly in-house to season each and every dish. The restaurant also has a tandoor oven powered by charcoal instead of the standard gas, which gives everything cooked in it a subtly smoky, richer flavor.
The appetizer section includes Chutneywala Paneer, which is fresh cheese stuffed with spices and grilled in the tandoor; Singara, a variation on the samosa from the Punjab region in Northern India that’s a bit crisper and filled with chunky chopped vegetables instead of mashed or pureed; Jhinga Koliwada, marinated and deep-fried prawns; the Momo, beef dumplings with a tomato and sesame sauce that originated in Nepal; the Malai Murgh Kebab, which features chicken pieces coated with blue cheese and spices and then baked in the tandoor; and the Marinated Scallops, also baked over charcoal and served with Portobello mushrooms.
Seafood dishes in the entrées section, including Jhinga Patia, large prawns cooked in a sour, medium-spicy sauce and Shahee Jhinga, with fresh lobster cooked in a creamy tomato-mushroom sauce. Other entrés include Sylheti Murgh, an extremely spicy dish of chicken cooked in the tandoor and then simmered in a chile sauce; Chetinad Murgh, a coconut milk-based curry chicken infused with flavors from Southern India; and Murgh Tandoori, a half-chicken slow-roasted on the bone in the charcoal tandoor.
Meat lovers can order up Manju’s Lamb Shank, that is marinated and cooked overnight on charcoal until it is tender enough to fall off the bone, then served with a spicy onion, tomato and chickpea sauce; Dum Ghosht Biryani, a dish of lamb and basmati rice with saffron and other spices cooked in a clay pot buried in charcoal for six hours. Vegetarians can order dishes like Daal Makhani, a mix of black lentils and kidney beans cooked overnight until flavorful and tender, and served with a creamy tomato sauce and there is even the Special Fried Rice, cooked with peas, cashews, raisins and egg.
To accompany the entrees, choose from a selection of eight different breads, from whole-wheat Laccha Paratha and Roti to the indulgent Peshwari Naan, fresh bread baked in the tandoor with coconut, raisins, dates and nuts. Wash it all down with selections from their wine list.
Open Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-2:30 pm and 5-10:30 pm, open until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday.
Photo Credit: acuna-hansen