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August 04, 2005

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Samosa Factory


Following up on last week's high quality, off-strip ethnic dining experience, commentator John Curtas samples Indian cuisine on west Sahara.

4604 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 6
Las Vegas, NV 89102
258.9196 or 258.9610

And here's what I know about Indian cuisine....

It's spicier in the South than the North on this sub-continent.

But it's still pretty darn spicy up north. It's more vegetarian in Goa than in Delhi.... but they still eat a lot of tasty vegetables in the capital. The cooking in the north is done with various meats (not beef) done in oil and ghee (clarified butter), and that of the south is more steamed and seafoody. The rice and flatbreads are wonderful, the aromatics, the best on earth...and did I mention that it can be spicy as hell?

Another thing I've noticed over the years is that a bad Italian restaurant gets more customers in one night than a good Indian restaurant gets in a month. And as with Greek/American places, most Indian joints serve almost identical, generic fare that is basically a best hits compilation of popular dishes.

Or so I thought until I started frequenting the Samosa Factory. But before I get to the interesting food, a few side notes. The place has been upgraded recently, and now features a well-appointed comfortable (if small), dining room, that makes it easy to ignore the fact that it's wedged between a taco shop and a PT's pub. It's also the ultimate family run, ethnic restaurant, with everything cooked to order, so don't be in a hurry for your curry. And for those of you too rushed to enjoy a full meal here, they do a great takeout service, and all of the house-made chutneys are for sale at the restaurant and at Whole Foods.

Those chutneys, from tamarind to tomato, are bursting with the flavor of the main ingredient, surrounded by a mélange (love that word), of sweet, savory and sometimes hot spices. They are the perfect accompaniment to the heady perfume of a large platter of Basmati pilaf cooked with peas, or that same rice studded with chicken, shrimp, or lamb. But as good as they are, it is the hot and sour curried chicken and the kaftas that tells you the Samosa Factory is manufacturing a superior product. That curry is as deep and penetrating a stew as you'll ever find, and Chef Rita Sirivstava makes a Malai kafta that is fantasta. These golfball sized morsels of grated carrot, potato, peas and fresh cheese, are simmered in a variety of sauces, none of which tastes like anything you've ever had.

The same goes for all of the vegetarian specialties, one of which, the simmered mustard greens, are a revelation in the complexity and depth of Indian seasoning. You weenies out there need not worry, there's plenty of good tandoori grilled chicken, beef and lamb, and the samosas are nice and boring just like they usually are, but when I'm at the Samosa Factory, I'm goin' for the gusto....and letting this place take my taste buds to where they've never been.

See discussion rules.


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