Here’s what I love about Indian food: it never fails to surprise me. Just when I think I understand the basics of the cuisine, I try a new dish that sends my taste buds reeling. In Norwalk, a half block away from Stew Leonard’s, a new restaurant named Aladin recently opened and the menu is exciting and different, while still being totally approachable.
Three different starters caught my attention. Artichoke scallion pakoda were flat vegetarian fritters served with an eggplant sauce. They were reminiscent of crab cakes. I don’t usually care for cauliflower, except at Indian restaurants, and this was no exception. The Cauliflower Manchurian consisted of crispy cauliflower florets in a very tangy tomato and garlic sauce. It was delicious. Bombay Bhel Puri was described as “crispy rice puffs, red onion and tamarind sauce.” I’ve never had anything quite like it before. It was very spicy, nutty and crunchy. While I usually don’t like too much spice, this was addictive. I kept going back for more.
A very simple, wonderful dish on the menu is the mint and basil kebab. Tandoori grilled chicken is marinated in basil and mint, giving it a bright green color. The chicken is incredibly tender and the marinade has just the right amount of spice. If you’ve never had Indian food, this is a great starter dish.
Some items of note: Aladin offers a gluten-free menu as well as a kids’ menu, and they have a full bar with a nice wine list and innovative drinks.
Aladin Indian Bistro
36 Westport Ave., Norwalk