If you love Indian food and haven't yet been to Karavalli on Johnson Road in Latham, you must go! The web site doesn't do it justice, because the decor is fresh, cheerful and modern, yet still Indian in style. Their menu is online in case you are skeptical. The service is attentive, and you will find it pleasantly full of patrons-- yet not offensively so.
Tonight I went there with my husband and his mom, and we had: Idly (dome-shaped dumplings served with yummy sauces); garlic naan (goodbye cold viruses and all but my best friends!!); chai masala teas; vegetable korma for my mother-in-law; vegetable Chettinadu for me (an actual cinnamon stick was presented on top); and malai kofta for my husband. Everyone was happy with their meal.
But the piece de resistance, for me was, is, and always will be the lemon pickle. It is hot, it is sour, it tastes of the essence of lemon, and I could actually eat a whole bowl of it. It is lemon as you've never had it before: forget lemonade, forget lemon chiffon pie. Lemon pickle is the only real, true lemon: the Platonic ideal of lemon. It clears the head and the sinuses almost instantly, and transports me to a place where lemon trees grow in abundance (not Latham, New York) and where food is multifaceted, real, and passionate (i.e., some other country besides this one, which is going to hell in a big-box chain restaurant). NB: they have lemon pickle at the affordable and delicious lunch buffet, and you can get as much as you want. Truly, it's heaven!
Other Indian restaurants of note around here are:
- Shalimar, which has two locations, one on Fulton Street in Troy, and one on Central Ave. in Albany- Decent, homey American-style Indian food with an inexpensive lunch buffet. This restaurant is popular with RPI students and profs., and has been a downtown Troy standby for years.
- Latham Biryani, on Route 9, near Newton Plaza- also a homey atmosphere (read: somewhat drab but comfortable) with what some friends of ours claim is slightly spicier food than Shalimar.
- The Sitar- I haven't been here in a while, but it has a slightly jazzier atmosphere than the above two restaurants, but about the same quality of food (basic American-watered-down Indian).
- Thunder Mountain Curry- Not a restaurant, but a mobile eatery you can find often (but not always) at the Troy Farmer's Market and sometimes on Fifteenth Street in front of the RPI campus center building. If Thunder Mountain Curry was a restaurant, they would probably best Karavalli (ohmigod, did I just say that?!?!) even though they are run by gringos. I say this only because their food is less greasy (there is practically no grease, well, okay maybe the pakoras, which are deep fried, have a slight shine, but they are supposed to!), and the chutneys and sauces are a marvel, all home-made.