Paneer Saagwala and Chicken Khurma
Naan and Paneer Saagwala
The bottom line: Persis has some of the best samosa I have had so far!
As much as I like to eat and explore different restaurants it is a shame that I have not been able to get around to the different Indian restaurants around town. So far I have only been to 1 and I came out of that experience very pleased with all the different ingredients, colors, and flavors that Indian cuisine has to offer. The dishes of India are so diverse that I feel I really have to study up on it before I place foot on another Indian restaurant again!
Besides Woodland’s my newest Indian food adventure was to Persis Biryani Indian Grill. The restaurant is located in a strip mall in the Ballantyne area off John J. Delaney. I kid you not when I say that I soon as you step out of your car you can smell the deliciousness diffusing from Persis. I was looking forward to this meal (besides the apparent reason of being super hungry) for a long time. Based on the smell alone I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed.
The restaurant is in a corner location and it is mid sized. One of the first things that struck me as I entered was that the majority of the patrons were families out for dinner. Every few tables you saw couples or a group of friends but they were not the majority. The place was well lit with a couple of TV’s tuned in to the World Cup and soft background music playing. As soon as I found my group of friends I went to sit down to finally get to enjoy some food.
However, here it is where I will insert my one and only gripe about Persis, the wait time could use some improvement. After I found my friends I probably sat there for close to 15-20 minutes without someone coming to our table. My friend that had gotten there earlier than us said that he also experienced the same thing. Had this happened at peak hour I would be more understanding but it was already 9:00 at night without many people to attend to. Also, given that the restaurant closes at 10:00 I felt we were rushed to place our order. Our waiter made sure that we knew we had to make up our minds fast. Although I don’t like feeling rushed I was appreciative that they were trying to get our orders in so that we could get quality food and not something halfway done, right?
After putting aside the service snafu I will say that Persis has dishes incredibly pleasing to the taste buds. The first thing that I ordered that night was Samosa (it is one of my favorite Indian treats besides Naan of course). Samosa is a deep fried pastry filled with mashed potato and peas. The dish comes with two samosas as well with a tamarind chutney and another dipping sauce made of a yogurt base. Please let me tell you that the tamarind chutney alone was amazing. The sauce was sweet and spicy and zesty. As soon as you taste the chutney you get the sweetness of the sugar and it lingers there for a little bit until you swallow and the heat of the peppers make your mouth burn for a little bit but not to the extent were you can’t tolerate it. The tamarind chutney has become one of my favorite dipping sauces hands down! The samosas themselves were also very flavorful. The dough was fried perfectly. Crispy without any hints of excess oil. The filling was delicious with a smoothness brought upon by the mashed potato and a little bit of a more sturdy texture from the peas. After the samosas I knew I was in for a treat!
For my main meal I ordered the Navrathan Khorma which is vegetables and nuts simmered on a creamy sauce and served with basmati rice. This dish was also all I expected and more! The sauce was indeed very creamy which I imagine was the result of heavy cream and maybe some yogurt. Actually it is kind of surprising to me how much Indian cuisine utilizes yogurt! I’m not complaining it is one of my favorite things to eat as well. The vegetables in the dish ranged from mushrooms to carrots to peas. It also had pieces of paneer (aka cottage cheese). The Navrathan Khorma had a hint of sweetness to it which I was OK with. I mixed the curry with the basmati rice and enjoyed every single bite I took. I really had not had anything like it before and I can’t wait to try something so full of flavor and body and texture again! The different spices that were added to the dish also helped to elevate it to a whole other level.
My friends ordered different dishes than mine which you also see pictured above. One of them ordered the Paneer Saagwala which is the cottage cheese cooked with spinach, spices, and topped with cream. I must note that the dish comes with fairly decent sized paneer cubes. My other friend ordered the Chicken Khurma. This dish was made of chicken cooked in coconut milk and topped with cilantro and cream. No one spoke while we ate so that in itself can tell you how much we all enjoyed what we were eating.
My food experience at Persis was great. It gave me this new found appreciation for authentic Indian cuisine. I feel that there is so much to discover and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet! Persis has a lunch buffet that I wish I could take advantage of but alas why do I have to work so far away from it! All I do now is that Persis has some of the best samosa I have tasted and I can’t wait to have them once again!