You may have heard of the Gandhi Mahal, an Indian restaurant in Minneapolis that was burned down in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. They now have a fundraiser for the rebuilding fees you can donate to, and have stood in support of the protests.
We had eaten at the Gandhi Mahal before, and found the food there excellent. It was a sobering reminder for us of just how real the whole event was. It was also a reminder for us that the Gandhi Mahal is actually really great. We don’t eat at our local Indian restaurants as often as we should, which is a huge mark of shame for us. This train of thought is what brought us to an even more local place in Bloomington: equal parts ‘a desire to help’, and ‘a deep anxiety that local food will be lost in the pandemic’.
The Tandoor Restaurant is located right in a cozy little strip mall, sharing the space with a Wendy’s and a Sonic. It’s even the corner store on the strip mall itself, genuinely tucked in right next to a Chinese place, the Hunan Restaurant. We love the Hunan and eat there all the time, so us overlooking the Tandoor for so long is nothing short of embarrassing.
We ordered goat curry, chicken biryani, and some naan. We were very pleased to find out that they offered goat meat as a part of their menu, as we had been wanting to try this particular meat for a while. Goat meat is nothing extraordinary or “exotic”, don’t get us wrong, but we’ve never had an opportunity to try it before. Most places that serve goat meat in our area, such as the Andale Taqueria, serve it seasonally; we’ve never had the thought to eat there in the seasons it’s available.
Once we had made it to the restaurant to pick up our order, we found it eerily empty in there. Not a soul to be seen. Paula waited a while in there, totally alone, the door wide open to the evening, and then a worker came out with our completely fresh and finished meal. We skedaddled straight home, looking forward to our feast. The car quickly filled with the incredible fragrance of the meal awaiting us.
The first thing we dug into was the naan, and oh, was this good naan. Light, chewy and fluffy, spackled with char marks and so large they were almost filling in themselves. We could have eaten a dozen of them alone, we do not lie. The best part about them was a gentle butteriness, tinged with a slight note of garlic. Garlic bread this was not, but the lightness and fluffiness of the flavor made it so much more.
Our first entree, the chicken biryani, was incredible. The rice was light and fluffy in the extreme, cloaking tender chunks of chicken seasoned so richly it boggles the mind. The biryani came with a dahi raita and a vegetable curry sauce, both of which were incredible. The raita was creamy and smooth, the perfect way to contrast the spicy chicken. The curry was a good contrast to the raita, offering a more vegetal funk and spice against the smooth creaminess. We liked to dip our meat chunks into these sauces, alternating between the two as we went.
But what really wowed us was that goat curry. If you’ve never had goat before, you might find a lot of people describing it as “strong” or “goaty” tasting. We didn’t get anything like that at all. It was like the best pork tenderloin we had ever tasted, with the texture of chicken. It was so mild, yet flavorful, in a way no other meat had ever been for us. We’re full-fledged goat converts right now. Served on a bed of basmati rice and doused in a red-hot curry, this dish was the highlight of the night.
Really, goat meat is delicious, and we’re stunned that so few places offer this stuff. It’s fantastic! Why in the world is this not right up there with pork and beef in ubiquity? Why did it take us so long to get a chance to eat this? It’s not like it was hiding from us. It had been there the whole time, just waiting for us to order it. We’re glad that we did, and we’re looking forward to trying more like it in the future.
The portions were very generous as well. These two dishes were more than enough to feed the both of us, and probably could have served four people! We kept the leftovers and fried them all up a day later with some eggs as fried rice, which was delicious. Probably not the best application for these leftovers, but boy, it was good.
We really don’t want this review to come across as congratulatory-sounding. That’s why we’re going to direct you to another review by a person actually from India who wasn’t at all impressed by the food at the Tandoor, and recommended the Hyderabad Indian Grill right down the street instead. And hey, now we want to try that! If Tandoor was this good to us, Hyderabad will probably cause us to faint.
We’re both White here at Eggware.XYZ, and we understand our thoughts and feelings on a topic like Indian food isn’t really needed. We know that it’s very easy for us to describe something as being sooo good when it’s not the same kind of white-bread food that we eat most days, even when the actual food itself is middling to palates used to these dishes. But is acknowledging this just more White guilt self-ass patting for being aware of this discrepancy? Is it further ass-patting to acknowledge the acknowledgement? This rabbit hole can go on forever. The fact is, we did love it, and we want to try more of it. Eating the food from Tandoor isn’t a magical portal towards understanding the Indian-American experience, but it’s fun. Food is fun, and respecting other cultures is important.
James Norton, a food journalist in the Minneapolis area, even advised us on Twitter that we should give goat tacos a try, so we have to swing by the Andale for them next chance we get. Once they’re in season, we don’t know how we’re going to be able to stop ourselves.