No, it’s not some development from our hydroponic-savvy friends in the Netherlands, it’s an Indian restaurant.
Nick and I took some time last night to explore our new neighborhood. We were hankering for some Chinese food, but apparently went down the wrong street, as there were none to be seen. We did, however, encounter a number of Japanese places, pizzerias, bistros, and so on. We passed one Indian restaurant and thought that that sounded pretty good. After a couple more blocks without finding any Chinese, we happened upon New Ganga and decided to go for it.
I’ll admit I was a little worried when we walked in and the dining room was completely empty, but my fears were soon allayed. The host/waiter (who spoke more English than French, I think) brought us a bright pink apéritif and a round of pappadum. The crispy, cumin-laced cracker worked well as an amuse-bouche, awakening my appetite and making me hunger for what was in store.
We ordered the “Indian Beer” listed on the menu, and opted to start with naan and samosas. The beer arrived first, with a multilingual (Italian, French, and German) label which said that either this was India’s best selling beer, or it was the best selling Indian beer in the world, or that it was the best beer in India, depending on the language.
The beer itself was light and fairly unremarkable, but served us well when the naan came out, accompanied by three sauces/chutneys.
The sauce on the right was a mild, slightly sour tamarind sauce. Fairly standard, but good for cooling the flames of the sauce on the left – a confit of chili peppers, as far as I can tell, and probably the single hottest thing I’ve eaten since arriving in Paris over two months ago. And I mean that in a good way. The green sauce in the middle was the most interesting of the bunch. It was a coriander-mint chutney, but with a spicy kick. Very surprising when the cool mint gave way to a touch of green chili heat on the finish. All three were so good I wanted to buy jars and bring them home. Then just when our palates were really getting warmed up, the samosas arrived.
They were hot from the fryer, with a nice thin layer of dough encasing a filling of mixed vegetables (looked like mostly cauliflower to me). Delicious on their own or drizzled with one or more of the sauces. When we were done with our appetizers, the plates were whisked away and before we could protest, the trio of sauces was gone. Next time I’m going to hang onto them, although it turned out that they weren’t really necessary for our main courses.
In my experience, most Indian cuisine isn’t particularly photogenic, being generally stew-like in consistency. But usually after the first bite I cease to care what it looks like, as long as it tastes good. And I was not disappointed. The rice was fluffy with a subtle saffron flavor, which made a great backdrop for the other two dishes. The saag paneer (they called it something different on their menu, but that’s what I’ve always called the spinach and homemade cheese dish) was quite tasty, but the cheese was disconcertingly smooth. Nick mentioned Laughing Cow, and while I don’t think that’s what it was, the paneer certainly didn’t have the same texture I’m accustomed to. France can be a difficult place to find non-French cheeses, so I’m willing to let it slide if they just put in dollops of fromage blanc or something along those lines. On a side note, they also offered cheese naan, of which I highly doubt the authenticity. Moving on, the orange dish in the lower right of the photo was lamb with eggplant. In a word, it was scrumptious. We cleaned all three plates, wiping up the last bits with reserved pieces of naan. We will definitely be returning.