Normally I don’t eat at Indian restaurants. It isn’t because I’m a picky person or anything like that, it’s just because I usually don’t eat very often. I eat Latino food at home and if I do buy anything outside, it’s usually fast food from a local pizzeria or food cart. So when I arrived at Baluchi’s to dine with a group of students from class, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I know that Indian food is spicy but that isn’t a problem to me at all. As for what I had to expect in terms of taste and texture, I had no clue.
Small, quaint with Indian décor, Baluchi’s certainly sets the tone, making you feel as if you traveled to the east though I was a little disappointed there was no Indian music playing. Well there wasn’t any music at all for that matter. Another disappointment came when I tried to order Tandoori Quail. Too often, I find that restaurants advertise an exotic meat on their menu and when you try to order it, it turns out they don’t have it. That’s what happened at Baluchi’s, when I went there. To be honest, I’m not going to fault them for it; I don’t think many New Yorkers regularly enjoy quail to begin with. I just make it a point to order the most exotic looking meal on the menu of any restaurant I go to, just to see if they actually have it. Usually they don’t. Noticing my disappointment, the waiter suggested another meal I might like. He suggested to me, the Combination Platter for my entrée.
The appetizer arrived quickly. I had ordered Boti Kebab which is a cube of lamb marinated, cooked in a clay oven. Sounds tasty, yes? Indeed it was. Often, the lamb I eat comes from street vendors and has a warm, bold flavor and a texture that varies from spongy to gritty. This is where Baluchi’s threw me off. The Boti felt like chicken. Though it was not some dry poultry but rather a meat overflowing with the warm and bold flavor I had expected along with a pleasant mild spiciness that won’t have your tongue causing house fires. The brown meat holds itself together well and requires some chewing before it goes down, each clamp of the jaw releasing saliva producing agents upon your tongue. Also there was a lemon, tomatoes, cucumbers and some kind of herb to go along with it. The plants weren’t bad but average; nothing special. That was just the appetizer.
Next, it was time to feast upon the friendly waiter’s suggestion. Despite the fact that I was the last person to join the table and thus the last person to order, I surprisingly was the first one to receive his entrée. I liked that but did find it a bit strange until I saw the difference between my meal and the meals of my classmates. They had ordered food that was mostly non-meat. Now, I assume the waiter based his suggestion on my size and the enormous amount of masculinity I exude. I say this because as one of my fellow classmates pointed out to me when my plate landed on the table, it was just mainly meat. The combination platter is a large assortment of lamb, chicken and salmon. No rice, few vegetables, no herbivores allowed. Fortunately for my waiter, he was right on his assumption of me. Baluchi’s cooked animals do not disappoint. This lamb was prepared in a different style from my appetizer lamb. It was slightly sausage like in appearance with the soft, spongy texture I had expected earlier. The taste brought me back to familiar places. The fish, hot pink on the outside, was so tender; I had difficulty picking it up with my fork, it would fall to pieces. Once in my mouth, it unleashed bursts of tangy, salty goodness that tickles the tip of the tongue. The chicken filled up an impressive portion of the meal. A pretty shade of pink on the outside with a brilliant glowing white inside, the chicken doesn’t stand out much in terms of taste. It isn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination but it just doesn’t “wow” you. It tastes like chicken marinated with Indian spices. If you don’t know what to make of my vague description of it just keep this in mind: it’s satisfying but not exciting.
As I launched my meal into the event horizon of my mouth, I remembered something. I remembered that I was eating during Baluchi’s lunch special hours and that the entire meal is half off. Considering the quality of the meat that’s brought to the table, it’s incredible that you could spend just as much money on a single fulfilling entrée there as you would at McDonald’s which offers significantly lower quality food. This alone makes Baluchi’s worth visiting at least once. Other than price value, the food itself is great, at least on the carnivorous side of the menu.