One of the great pleasures of New York is being able to try out unfamiliar cuisines. It’s even better when you can introduce your friends as well, as on a quest for the princely slow-cooked Indian dishes at Awadh on the Upper West Side. If you think you know Indian food, think again. The menu here is inspired by the ancient Hindu state of Awadh, known for its refined and rich cuisine, and you’ll encounter flavors, textures, and presentations that are unique to the region.
Your first impression will be a fragrant one, as the aroma of exotic spices fills the contemporary space. Let the polished staff lead you upstairs, where you’ll settle in to a black banquette and prepare to feast. Order a cocktail for a preview of the flavors to come, like the imaginative gin and mango Indian Summer, with its velvety texture and green chile finish. Get reacquainted with your friends as you work your way through crisp and spicy okra, coconut curry shrimp with mango-pineapple chutney, and grilled lamb kebabs made with a blend of over 100 spices. And don’t miss the biryanis, served like Indian potpies, with flavor-packed rice topped in a cap of naan bread.
Slow-cooking techniques that date back centuries are used on mains like lamb shanks, simmered all night to create deep and intricate flavors. You and your crew will be feeling relaxed amid the up-tempo scene, and maybe in the mood for a French vintage off the smart wine list. If it’s a night for teetotaling, you can expand your tea horizons with the tea sommelier’s selections from a family plantation in the Himalayas. Save a little room for dessert, maybe the saffron-infused bread pudding. It’s just another of Awadh’s surprises that taste like you’ve journeyed a lot further than uptown.
Photo by Ethan Wolff