Here’s the scoop behind the newest Indian restaurant to hit the scene in Mid-City, Cardamom L.A. The restaurant takes residency where India’s Oven long stood. What’s different, you ask, when one Indian restaurant replaces another in the same location?
The answer lies in the contemporary twist on Cardamom’s menu and decor, as the Pani Puris are served in shot glasses, the chef brings experience and cooking techniques from the UK, and the colorful abstract paintings on the wall are even hand-painted by their own team.
Last Wednesday, I was invited to attend a pre-opening media dinner for Cardamom L.A., where I got a taste of the new fare with my friends Karen, Rachael and a number of other fellow food writer & blogger friends. Being an Indian-American girl who could fluently speak their same language, it apparently was a pleasant surprise for the owners.
To be even more festive (it’s not every day I get to attend a food event of my own people!), I even wore an Indian kurti top to dinner :). The hospitality was amazing, and Chef Choudhury warmly invited me to take a peek at the behind the scenes cooking action in the kitchen. Here’s your Desi scoop, in the latest one(ish)-minute Tanaya’s Table episode:
Chef Choudhury takes pride in using the freshest ingredients, never frozen or canned. He travels to India to personally source fresh whole spices, which he brings back to grind in-house. He then uses these freshly ground spices to season each of the 100-plus items on the Cardamom menu. I also learned that the restaurant uses a tandoor oven powered by charcoal instead of the standard gas, resulting in a smokier, richer flavor.
Although I was born in SoCal, being of Indian ethnicity I must explain that contrary to what some may believe, Indian food is not just rich chicken tikka masala and buttery naan. There are so many types of Indian cuisines from numerous regions throughout the subcontinent, including lighter, non-spicy everyday dishes. Cardamom’s extensive menu represents the unique cuisines of many of these parts. Whether you are a vegetarian, meat lover or seafood fan, there’s something for everyone at Cardamom L.A.
My favortites included the presentation of the Pani Puri, as they had the traditional spiced tamarind water in the glass, and the crispy shells sitting atop, stuffed with potatoes and chickpeas (see a demo of how to eat it in the video above). I also loved the Peshwari Naan, served fresh from the tandoor, stuffed with sweet coconut, raisins, dates and nuts. And for spice lovers like myself, Cardamom doesn’t skimp when it comes to their savory fare. They bring the heat, if you want them to.
Cardamom is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, and is located at 7233 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038. For more information or reservations, visit cardamomLA.com.