Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spice n Hot Indian Restaurant

I rarely post restaurant reviews here. I keep meaning to, thinking a food blog should include commentary on the places I eat as well as what I cook and the stories triggered by the meals, but I usually forget.

Today I remembered.

I had lunch with my friend Elsa today. We often spend Thursdays together in what we call "play dates." We'll each set a few goals regarding what we want to get done, work in the same house but not necessarily the same room, check in and help each other stay on track, and go someplace for lunch.

Today we went to Spice n Hot Indian Restaurant in Malden, MA. We walked, since it's a lovely day and the air is finally starting to smell like spring. As we walked we admired the temporary streams and springs from the melting mounds of snow. We smelled the earth, listened to the birds and agreed that it was a good day to be alive.

Spice n Hot is next door to India Bazaar, an Indian grocery. I've been a regular customer at India Bazaar for years, it's a sweet little store, a family-run business. The same family runs Spice n Hot. When you eat in you'll see the chef/proprietor run next door if he needs a particular ingredient. The shopkeeper will walk in for lunch. It's a nice sense of family.

The restaurant itself is quite small, with three full-sized and two half-sized booths. Most of the clientele are Indian (today we ate next to a mother, grandmother and grand-daughter). The food, as you can see in the picture, is lacking in presentation, but makes up for that in taste.

I've enjoyed everything I've eaten there. Considering it's a one-man operation, the menu is fairly comprehensive; there are always specials on the walls not listed in the print out. Because there's only one cook, the food can take a little while to arrive (15 minutes today, with a few other patrons in-house) but it's hot and fresh when you get it.

We ordered papdum, chicken and spinach and a paneer (cheese) tandoori special dish in a red sauce. We ordered our food medium - other times I've ordered spicy and it was more than my palate could bear.

The papadum was crisp and accompanied by onion chutney. The entrees came with plates of tender saffron basmati rice. The chicken and spinach was breast meat in a typical palak mix - nicely seasoned and smooth with tinges of cumin. The paneer tandoori was my favorite. The cheese cubes were tender and fresh, the sauce very rich and flavorful. It had wonderful mouth feel; ghee was clearly an ingredient in the mix.

I'd urge you to visit Spice n Hot should you be in the neighborhood. You'll support a local restaurant, get a glimpse into the local community and have a good meal, all at the same time!

(c) 2011 Laura Packer