Many people think of powdery tandoori chicken, cream-laden saag, and ghee-soaked naan puffs as the scope of North Indian food -- evidence they've soaked up at cheap buffets and late-night spots. By that logic, we're guessing a false sense of familiarity kept us away from Aslam's Rasoi. While the menu long on vindaloos, kormas, and tikka masalas offers few surprises, the preparations are vivid, magnified under the supervision of former Indian Oven chef Mohammed Aslam.
Last weekend, we felt as if we'd been staring at something lovely without glasses for ages, and only now, spectacles on, were getting a clear picture, as our 'buds wrapped around super-charged, multi-dimensional flavors bearing little resemblance to what we've scooped off steam tables. For example, the standard chicken tikka masala, generally creamy, is even creamier here, with smoke and high peppery notes slicing through the dairy. Likewise tandoori shrimp, miraculously not desicated, but springy and fresh.
The experience has taught us a lesson, one we may carry over into a resolution for the upcoming decade: Think less, smell more.
Aslam's Rasoi 1037 Valencia (at 21st St.), 695-0599