06 December 2009

Madina Restaurant & Sweets

BANGLADESH
PAKISTAN


Walking into Madina is a fairly quick experience: Open door, take two steps, stare at steam table. This heating apparatus separates the cooks from the patrons with too many options to safely choose from. Asking for recommendations in such a place is sometimes a dangerous proposition as many times the employees will steer you towards what needs to be dumped, but here at Madina it led us to a couple options that seemed to be fresh from the kitchen.

Although the outside awning reads "Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine," I wanted to try something particularly Bangladeshi, since all the names on the menu and items in front of me appeared much like Indian food. "It's all Bangladeshi!" was the answer, alleviating any problems we might have with limitations. Possibly unconvinced, we ordered anyways and later learned that our server and all the other people working here are Pakistani.


The aloo tikki ($0.99, above) is best as a receptor for chutneys and other sauces, a potato cake that is mild enough despite its peppers and cilantro that it could take to any spices added. The nice firm texture is great for dipping or scooping, and gets you prepared nicely for anything else to come.

While waiting, Bollywood videos play on an English-language Indian channel in the mustard-walled dining room, and all lunching customers' eyes are fixed screenward.

The special of the day was a ground chicken mixed with black eyed peas ($4.99, below) for which I could not get a real name out of our server. It was mildly spicy but full of intense flavors and a real treat to eat with the delicious, fresh naan ($0.99), which is made to order, with the sweet voice of the lady calling "one more naan please" each time we went back to ask for another.


Also naan-worthy was the lamb and potato curry ($4.99, below) which we probably could have upped to a large size for more of the delicate morsels of my favorite meat. The subtle hotness of the dish creeps up with each bite and creates a lovely tingle by the bottom of the bowl.


To cleanse the palate, you are offered free coffee with every order over $5, but it also is nice to try the ras malai ($2.49 for two pieces, below), a homemade cheese with condensed milk conglomerate that has almonds mixed in. It's less sweet than it sounds and satisfies very promptly any dessert cravings you might have been having.

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