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Tabla Restaurant Adds Some Indian Spice to Atlanta's Everchanging Culinary Scene

By S. Mathur

Tabla Owner Sandeep Kothary has the home turf advantage. Being at home with Indian cuisine allows the restaurant to offer both traditional dishes as well as modern twists on classic favorites. When deciding to open an an Indian restaurant in the Atlanta area, he felt he had something special to offer.

"Growing up, my family owned The Palace, a very popular traditional Indian restaurant in North Atlanta. After years helping out on the weekends while I was home from studying at UGA, I set out to create an upscale Indian restaurant in Midtown where people could still enjoy traditional Indian food, but in a setting that was chic and modern fitting in with the area."

The decor fits the chic and modern slot, with sleek contemporary furniture and lighting. But that's just the beginning. Even though Indian food is popular in the area, Kothary wants to make it a general favorite: "I wanted to make my families' cuisine more approachable for everyone. I think with Atlanta being an international city, Indian food is very popular in general. There are so many ways to approach the cuisine though, and I think Tabla does a great job filling the fine dining space."

The popular dishes reflect the restaurant's philosophy of "authentic with a modern twist.". Appetizers like Kurkuri Bhindi, or crisp fried okra, and Lassoni Cauliflower, with garlic and chili sauce are a sure bet. Classic favorites include Tandoori Whole Fish, cooked in a clay tandoor oven after being marinated in Indian spices overnight. Chicken Tikka Masala, naturally, is a frequent choice. Unique curries like Vegetable Moliee, cooked with coconut and mustard seed, are also much requested.

The Deconstructed Tacos present Indian staples like Malai Chicken, which comes in a creamy sauce, Lamb Seekh Kabab and Paneer Tikka, in a form familiar to diners. Kothary explains that the innovative dishes use different ingredients for traditional Indian dishes: "At Tabla, you will find traditional curries and dishes that you won't find on menus around the city. We stay authentic in that way, but like to innovate when it comes to the unique proteins we choose to use, like duck or bison."

Other curries include the traditional ones and can be cooked with chicken, lamb, shrimp or paneer, the Indian version of cottage cheese. You could have your choice of meat or paneer cooked with tikka masala with tomato and fenugreek sauce; or korma, a cashew and yogurt based curry; saag or sautéed garlic spinach; balti with cardamon and chili; and vindaloo, a spicy Goan curry with chili & vinegar.

The beverage program offers liquors infused with spices to match the foods. The Delhi Mule is a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger ale and lime), with the vodka soaked with ginger and chilies, and the Chai Old Fashioned adds chai spices to the bourbon.

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