Back in 2011, a restaurant in Waltham that Boston's Hidden Restaurant had reviewed moved for the second time, and ironically, this time Kabab and Tandoor went from being in plain sight on a street that isn't exactly a restaurant row to being in a rather hidden space on a nearby street that is literally called "restaurant row." Indeed, this eatery is now more difficult to find even though it has gone from Main Street to Moody Street, but while the move may seem to be a head-scratcher to some, the new space is arguably more comfortable and more appealing--that is, if you are able to find it.
Kabab and Tandoor actually started out in a shoebox-sized spot on nearby Lexington Street, eventually moving to a bigger location near where Main Street and Moody Street meet. Now the restaurant is in the basement of a relatively large grocery store called Waltham India Market, off to the side of a mini-food court that is accessed by a staircase in the front of the store. Unlike the rest of the food court, which has a bustling street-food feel to it--sort of like a smaller version of the Asian food court within the Sears building in Cambridge's Porter Square--Kabab and Tandoor has an almost elegant entrance that leads to a dark, moody, and exotic space. The dining area has a number of tables and booths, with a buffet set up in the back and a private-feeling section to the left of the buffet that is good for large groups.
Kabab and Tandoor specializes in Hyderabadi Halal cuisine, with Halal basically being something not unlike Kosher food in that there are standards, or requirements set in place for the items served (and which are too detailed to get into here, unfortunately). And Hyderabadi? Well, it refers to food that is often a diverse mix of Indian, Persian, and Middle Eastern cuisines, with the actual name coming from the city of Hyderabad, which is located in central India. In short, there are items here that you won't find in a lot of Indian restaurants, and vice versa (you won't find vindaloo here, for instance). The menu certainly has a lot to choose from, with a nice mix of vegetarian and meat-based dishes available. Appetizers include a delicious (and complex tasting) dish called dahi wada, which is a plate of deep-fried savory lentil dumplings that have a variety of spices and are smothered in a slightly sweet yogurt sauce. A somewhat similar (and similarly good) starter is called aloo bondas, or seasoned mashed potatoes coated in a savory chickpea batter and deep-fried. The new location of Kabab and Tandoor now has naan (a white-flour bread found in most Indian restaurants), but it seems to focus more on paratha, a whole-wheat lightly fried bread that comes with several different fillings, including a marvelous version that has minced chicken inside. Entrees run the gamut from kababs to seafood entrees to chicken dishes to mutton/beef plates, with one entree definitely worth considering being the oddly-named but outstanding chicken 65, a dish that Kabab and Tandoor calls a "Hyderabadi special." It consists of deep-fried chicken cubes cooked with flavorful (and hot) spices and yogurt, and while the initial burn of this dish isn't too bad, it sneaks up on you, seemingly getting hotter and hotter as you eat it. Another dish that is impressive is the saffron chicken, which includes chicken cubes mixed with saffron in an outstanding cream-based sauce, while the biryani dishes are wonderful, with rice, yogurt, and various spices (including saffron) mixed with mutton, chicken, or veggies, and all of the biryanis have that aforementioned heat that tends to have a delayed intensity. Drinks include satisfying versions of mango lassi and masala tea, while desserts include Gulab Jamun (milky-tasting morsels that are a bit like donuts) and Rasmalai (cheese dumplings).
Don't let the words "Hyderabadi" and "Halal" scare you off; Kabab and Tandoor simply serves delicious Indian fare, and a wide variety of it as well. In addition to the impressive food, the atmosphere of the new space is quite appealing, parking is somewhat easy to find, and prices are pretty reasonable overall. It may be in a rather odd location now, but this dining spot is one not to miss, and may just be one of the best Indian restaurants in the western suburbs of Boston.
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