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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alice Eats: Karma Indian Restaurant

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 12:56 PM

334 Cornelia Street, Plattsburgh, NY, 518-561-8301

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My earliest memory is eating tandoori chicken back in New York. On Facebook, I list Indian buffets as my religion. Needless to say, living in Northern Vermont has been difficult for me.

I learned early on to stay away from the bland, greasy Indian food in the area and wait until I was in Montréal or New York to indulge. Recently, I started hearing good things about a closer option — Karma in Plattsburgh. Could I be just a ferry trip away from nirvana?

Karma was in a strip mall across from a KFC. This was the first good sign. Humble location? You must be doing something right to stay open.

The hostess was funny, sarcastic and a native English speaker. Not quite the turbaned grandfathers I'm used to but a great addition nonetheless.

The thick menu offered a range of options I've long craved — and several I'd never seen before. Though there were several goat dishes, a real rarity, and tandoori salmon and lamb chops, I just had to try the chicken chutney walla — a curry of mango, mint and ginger.

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Roti curry (right) in the appetizer section also caught my eye. The whole-wheat flatbread roti is a staple at Indian and Malaysian restaurants. The fact that it was being served paired with curry reminded me of the Caribbean tradition of making roti wraps. I couldn't resist making my own.

At just $5.95, the roti curry was a meal in itself. The soft, buttery bread had crisp edges, but was still easy to tear into — worthy vessels for the creamy, coconut-filled curry. I could immediately tell that the meat was of a far better quality than I'm accustomed to in Vermont Indian eateries. The mildly spiced stew boded good things for the rest of the meal, and I cleaned the bowl with bread to spare.

A native Vermonter, my boyfriend is a newcomer to Indian food, but he is passionate about korma. Any Indian restaurant that we try, the sweet cream-based Mughlai dish is our control dish. This luxurious meal was miles better than anything we had tried within a one-hour radius of Burlington. The yellow stew was full of meaty chunks of tender white meat chicken and bedecked with almond slices and golden raisins. The thick sauce was a nice balance of sweet and savory, but had an odd undertone of what tasted like undercooked onions.

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The same flavor was slightly more apparent in the chutney walla (right), but since the dish appears to be the chef's invention, it didn't seem quite as out of place. I asked for the curry to be somewhere between medium and hot, and it was exactly that — just enough to feel a bit of burn on my lips, but not enough to detract from the dish's complex tastes.

The mango base of the creamy sauce was more tangy than sweet, a nice surprise in a dish that could have easily turned revoltingly saccharine. Glowingly fresh ginger dominated with a breeze of coriander that blew threw each bite.

I spooned the chicken into the silver bowl filled with basmati rice and peas that came with the meal. I made sure to get a bit of the mint sauce that sat on top on each piece of meat for an invigorating counterpoint to the cream sauce.

A great addition to the meal was one of Karma's 14 breads, the Kashmiri naan. The light, tandoor-baked white flatbread was filled with almond paste and ground raisins. The bread tasted somewhere between a traditional naan and a Bavarian dessert, but lent an exciting new taste to the chutney walla.

Though I was tempted by my standard gulab jamun (fried dough made from milk solids in rosewater syrup) and carrot halwa, I simply didn't have room for dessert. I will be sure to hop the ferry to try one soon, but sooner still, I hope to visit my place of worship, the lunch buffet.

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to alice@sevendaysvt.com.

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About The Author

Alice Levitt

Alice Levitt

Bio:
AAN award-winning food writer Alice Levitt is a fan of the exotic, the excellent and automats. She wrote for Seven Days 2007-2015.

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