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Friday, January 13, 2017

Peachy Picks Aahar Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

From the Anari Shrimp above to the Tandoori Lamb Chops, Aahar is a winner!

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It's not who you know, it's WHOM YOU KNOW and you know that by now, silly!
One of the brightest new dining spots to us in 2016 was also new to all of Manhattan: Aahar.
Its name means feast in Indian, and we believe Indian food is becoming immensely popular in America.  Peachy never ate Indian food at all until she met Ashok Bajaj, and then he showed her like he has shown the rest of the world that Indian food can be great if you know what you are doing.  The government of India should give Ashok some kind of Ambassador of Cuisine honor.  Of course if you are in Washington, D.C. you should be going to see Ashok.
But if you are in New York, you should go to Aahar!
Of all of the restaurants in Terrific Takeout in 2016 for the first time, which is what anyone would be eligible for in their first feature, Aahar is on the very short list which has graduated to Peachy's Picks this quickly.  This graduation rate is at an all-time low on Whom You Know because your competition of veterans is so strong; we've done this for eight years now.
Aahar was first featured in Terrific Takeout last summer:
Located downtown near City Hall, Aahar is owned by Prashant Bhatt, who takes immense sincere pride in his work.  On both visits on our first step in the door, he greeted us with a smile and his signature friendliness.  He also owns another restaurant downtown that is more casual and we may check that out another time.  Aahar is absolutely beautiful and we love the high ceilings.  The turquoise accents are to be applauded and the overall spaciousness is uncommonly fabulous.  Eating at Aahar is both a delicious and gorgeous experience and that is what we are looking for.  We drank authentic Indian beer during our visit and we'd encourage you to do the same.
Shrimp has a long, tall history on Whom You Know despite its petite, short size.  Despite the many dinners, Peachy has managed to still be pretty petite and just loves shrimp.  Anari Shrimp of Aahar arrives uber-fresh and grilled to perfection, delivering a most satisfying crispy crunch when you bite into this delicacy.  Prashant has through of everything from pomegranate molasses (yes, he achieved something we had never had and actually liked!) a wonderfully creamy greek yogurt sauce.  Do not miss what our panelist tells you about the Chicken Tikka appetizers: there are two and they are great.
For a balanced meal, absolutely order a green salad and you can be confident that the elements are all fresh at Aahar.  We were extremely pleased with the green salad quality especially in the cold weather.  Garlic naan is one of our most favorite components of Indian cuisine and it's done so well here:
The Chicken Biryani is just as excellent as we had remembered and you simply must try it.  It is Peachy's personal favorite dish at Aahar!  The succulent flavoring is just right: exotic enough to entice you but not too hot.  The chicken is tender in perfect size pieces, and all components are in a great ratio to each other.  
The Chicken Tikka Masala is a a classic!  Rich, sublime sauce that is the perfect mix of tomato, cream and spice envelops the chicken bringing your tastebuds to immense applause.  A lot of "neighborhood" places do not do this nearly as well as Aahar so if you think your local is great, venture here.
At this stage in the game, Peachy decided that wheat naan maybe was a little bit healthier than garlic naan, and guess what, it was also delicious.  But maybe next time there can be a garlic wheat naan?  
The Shrimp Curry is not to be ignored and the delicate little wonders of the sea swim with style in onion and tomato.  If you like seafood, we'd encourage this dish.
From the White Chocolate Rasmalai to the Mango Firni to the Squash Halwa, you can't go wrong with any of the desserts although Peachy will admit she prefers the Mango.
We imported our panelist from England and he knows a thing or two about Indian food.  He's eaten it every Friday for many years, and professionally his attention to detail level has earned him international acclaim beyond his eating, but we decided to apply it to his eating and he knows more about Indian food than anyone we've met that is not Indian, like us.
Our esteemed panelist adds:
Indian food is extremely popular in England, particularly in Birmingham where I am from, it is my favorite food, and therefore I was really looking forward to going to Aahar.
Indian restaurants always have a unique ambiance and this was no exception; when I walked in the aroma and the atmosphere was not only captivating but the d├ęcor was more upmarket than your typical Indian restaurant. We were warmly greeted by owner, Prashant Bhatt who was very attentive throughout our stay and while he displayed humility he was extremely confident that we would enjoy his food.
Traditionally in England we don’t tend to have wine with Indian food but start with an Indian beer as your aperitif and then have another one (or two) with your meal. This is perfect as it is works well with the spicy Indian food. In keeping with tradition, we ordered Indian Taj Mahal beer which as with most Indian beers was ideally crisp, clean and refreshing.
For the appetizer I ordered Chicken Tikka which is chicken pieces marinated in yogurt and spices. I was intrigued by the Chicken Tikka Malai, as I had never heard of this, so I also ordered this dish so I could compare the two. 
Quite simply Malai is white meat and usually you do not get this choice. The marination process ensures the chicken is tender and mouthwatering and this was no exception. The “standard” tikka was indeed delicious but the Malai took it to another level, it not only passed the mouthwatering test but it literately melted in my mouth. This would be a must for next time I visit this establishment! 
Lamb is extremely popular in England and less so in the USA, so when I saw they served Tandoori Lamb Chops it was obviously a must for me. The lamb was cooked to perfection and was tasty and truly succulent. This was served with crispy okra and mint pesto sauce. This was my first experience with okra and its outer crispy texture, yet inner tender and soft taste was impressive as it proved to be a fitting companion to the lamb and combined with the mint sauce, and mint is always a must with lamb and tandoori, was tripartite excellence.
This was followed by Lobster Malwani which was tender lobster pieces in a curry sauce which main ingredients were tomato and onions; I really appreciated the texture of this beautiful dish with its contrasting blend of wonderful contrasting flavors. The spice level was perfect, not too hot but with captivating aftertaste which I found rather addictive and despite feeling rather full at this stage, found it difficult to let it go!
In summary, Indian cuisine is my favorite and Aahar certainly did not let me down; in fact, I am confident that it would be difficult to find better Indian cuisine in New York. The owner, Prashant and his staff are very attentive and Prashant has every right to be proud and confident about his food. I will be recommending this gem of a restaurant to every Indian food fan that I meet and I expect to be a regular customer myself. Oh and incidentally, the meaning of “Aahar” is “Feast”, rather appropriate!
Peachy and Prashant
"Since we opened in June 2016, Aahar has excelled in authentic Indian cuisine based on my education from the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology in Bombay, India, my hometown.  I'm proud to bring my cuisine to Manhattan and we look forward to welcoming you as a guest."
-Prashant Bhatt
Do not forget the Chicken Biryani.
Peachy Picks Aahar!
Aahar is Highly Recommended by Whom You Know.

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