Taste | Tamarind
By Jaqueline Gutierrez
There are many Indian restaurants throughout the Inland Empire -- almost too many to try.
Tamarind at the Chino Spectrum Towne Center is a standout in a sea of Tikka Masala.
Above the door, on the menus and business cards, it says “Pakistani and Indian Cuisine.” The owner, L. Khan says that is as a tribute to a time when Pakistan was Northern India. Their cuisine is one in the same; as complex and beautiful as a wedding saree.
Check out this video our photographer @ernslabproject shot.
You can have the best Karahi in town, but it won’t be the same if your rice isn’t up to snuff. Tamarind uses Basmati Rice exclusively, and Khan respects the rice. He says prefers Basmati over another, say, such as Jasmine, because "it’s the best rice.”
Khan recalls fondly that when he cooks rice back home, the neighbors can smell it because of the method in which it’s cooked. Here, we have minute rice, there, it’s ages for several years and then soaked in water for hours until the grains more than double in size. This produces the desired light and fluffy texture. Not one grain of rice should stick to another. The rice at Tamarind is an explosion of color tinted with saffron, turmeric and other secret ingredients that couldn’t be divulged.
We attended Tamarind's lunch buffet, which features all of the restaurant's hits -- Chicken Tikka Masala coming in as its most popular dish. I must admit was one of the better entrees I’ve ever had. The chicken was moist and the sauce was creamy and rich with spices. The classic flavors of coriander, cumin and cardamom are ever-present.
The tandoori chicken was amazing as well -- bright as a persimmon with that familiar hint of garam masala. It also had that perfect amount of char from the clay oven.
The tandoori ovens are traditional; Khan had them shipped over from India. It makes a world of difference in the chicken, and especially the naan. It was very difficult to not eat basket after basket of garlic naan. The garlic, clarified butter and parsley are the three best friends that anybody could have.
Khan says that Indian food is quite healthy aside from the rich kheer and addictive naan. Most of the food is vegetarian, even if the focus is on the chicken dishes. The Baingen Bhurta is charbroiled eggplant cooked with tomatoes and onions. My personal favorite is Saag Paneer, a homemade Indian cheese cooked in yogurt, spinach and green coriander. All of these dishes have are ginger and turmeric, which are great natural anti-inflammatory agents.
A pot of chai tea and a bowl of kheer present the perfect way to end a meal at Tamarind. Next time you’re in Chino give it a try. Tell them IEShineOn sent you.