Dawat: A Passage Through History and Time

February 25, 2009 Updated: March 22, 2009

Dawat has offered its fare for 28 years in Midtown Manhattan. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Dawat has offered its fare for 28 years in Midtown Manhattan. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Dawat’s menu is a reflection of flavors that have passed throughout history and cultures. Here one can feast over a meal of many of India’s regional dishes. Indian food is also as varied as its population, culture, and religion. It is diverse and inspiring. Indian food is known for its endless varieties of spices, breads, chutneys, vegetables, nuts, grains, rice, meats, fish, and last but not least, the scrumptious desserts. Here, the adage, “Variety is the spice of life,” applies.

At Dawat, boundaries are erased bringing all regional cuisine to one menu and are prepared with fresh and quality ingredients of spicy, mouth-watering treats to New York. Chef Sohan Singh masterfully brings all regional styles, whether North, South, East, or West and the different flavors of curry all in one place and to your table.

The simple, elegant setting of Dawat. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
The simple, elegant setting of Dawat. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Baghari Jhinga shrimp with mustard and curry leaves. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Baghari Jhinga shrimp with mustard and curry leaves. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Tandoori lamb chops. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Tandoori lamb chops. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Vegetarian thali. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
Vegetarian thali. (Mingguo/The Epoch Times)
A food connoisseur would definitely appreciate this diverse assortment of aromatic dishes.

The setting is classy, simple, warm, and elegant. The service is good. Most importantly the chef is visible. The food is consistent, since the chef has been with Dawat since its opening in 1986. One can watch him patiently and proudly baking the breads and the meats in the tandoori oven just behind the glass walls, a wonderful contrast of old and present while creating magic through the passage of time.

We had few starters, the Aloo Tikkyas with Red Peshawari Chutney ($6.75), which is curry leaf flavored potato cakes served with two different sauces—one with chutney and the other with almonds and mint. The Baghari Jhinga ($11.95) shrimp with mustard and curry leaves. A must have, the sauce was very elegant, delicate and spicy, but not overly hot. We also had the tandoori lamb chops ($24.95). The meat is marinated in yogurt, garlic, and ginger and grilled in the clay oven. It was very tender and succulent and accompanied with a good contrast, the shredded lettuce and bell peppers—a perfect match.

If you have not noticed by now, most Indian restaurants do not include beef or pork on their menu. That is due to religious influences. Hence, lamb and goat meats are more commonly used. In India, one must not worry, since there is an endless variety and choices of foods that can please the palate and leave one satiated. Dawat’s menu offers an eclectic variety for the vegetarian, meat or fish lover.

We feasted over a few of the main courses: We had the Chicken Tikka Masala ($18.25), the Saag Paneer ($14.75), and a vegetarian Thali ($26.95). All were pleasantly spiced. I am partial to the Chicken Tikka Masala, and here was a perfect blend of spices, and the chicken was cooked just right. Since Indian cuisine is known for its vegetarian food, of course, we ordered the Thali (means tray) and at Dawat, it is served on a silver tray, representing prosperity and respect to its clients. Rice and bread are major staples in Indian cuisine and so we had the Chicken Biryani ($18.75), garlic naan ($4.75), and poori ($4.95). The Biryani rice was cooked just perfect—almost fluffy and nicely flavored.

Although we ate a lot, we felt good and not heavy, just right.

After this spicy and flavorful meal, one must have desert to refresh the palate. Fortunately, Dawat’s desert menu has a nice selection of refreshing and delicious items at reasonable prices. My favorite is the Rasmalai ($6.75) and Gulab Jamun ($6.75) which were good while my friend had the Kulfi ($6.75), a traditional Indian ice cream and Special Kheer ($6.75), a rice pudding flavored with cardamom and garnished with pistachios. A fabulous way to end a meal.

Dawat offers lunch and dinner specials with a starting price point of $16.95.

Dawat is located at 210 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022. Tel (212) 355-7555. It is open Monday through Saturday from Noon until 3:00 p.m. and Monday through Sunday from 5:30 pm. until 10:30 p.m. Major credit cards accepted.