Finally, a good, reasonably priced, Indian restaurant has opened in the area.
Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of Indian restaurants from which to choose, but many of them are mediocre, or the food is bland (a sin in Indian cuisine) or are expensive. Deccan Spice in Pompano manages to offer authentic-tasting Indian food, but it does so at reasonable prices and in a spotless dining room. On top of that, all of the servers I’ve encountered have been unfailingly efficient and polite, even warm and friendly.
Oh, and by the way, even though it’s only been open a short time, it’s already developed a strong LGBT following, judging by the gaggles of gays on my visit there.
Most of the dishes at Deccan are in the $14-$16 range, except for lamb, which tops $20 for a half a rack of chops, still not a bad price. Of course, if you’re like me, part of the joy of Indian food is the wide array of dishes. The best dining experiences occur with a large group that is willing to share family style. Either that or pay a little more and have plenty of leftovers to take home. Or, if you prefer, stop in for lunch/brunch on Saturday and Sunday and check out the expansive buffet.
The buffet runs about $20 a person and offers everything from appetizers (love the onion pakora and spicy tomato soup) to dozens of meat and vegetarian-based entrees, and of course, warm and fluffy naan, the Indian flatbread, with which to sop up all those wonderful sauces. The buffet even offers a trio of desserts; gulab jamun (Indian donut balls, scented with rose and saffron in a honey syrup) to something called rose delight (I think I went to high school with her) and my favorite, Kesari ras malai, baked yogurt, which tastes like a crustless cheesecake.
If you prefer to dine a la carte, check out the variety of tandoori (clay oven) dishes featuring chicken, prepared murgh, tikka, and malai style, or shrimp, paneer (Indian cheese), and lamb chops. Vegetarians will have plenty of choices with four styles of daal (lentils), Kabuli chole (chickpeas), saag paneer (the classic creamed spinach and cheese combo), Telangana aloo (potatoes), bagara baingan (stuffed eggplant — to die for), Tawa bhindi ghatta (okra), Mughlai malai kofta (vegetable and cheese croquettes), and many others.
The menu is divided into categories. Under “Curry” you will find a wide variety of dishes, priced depending on your choice of protein, from $12.99 for egg to $16 for shrimp, with the other options being chicken, lamb, and goat. Andhra curry is spicy with fresh coconut, whole chiles, while Chettinad is flavored with black pepper and curry leaves. Tikka masala, a creamy tomato sauce, is good for those that like things milder, as is butter chicken (despite the name the sauce pairs wonderfully with shrimp). Kadai turns up the heat a little more with a mix of spices and caramelized onions.
For those that like heat, check out the Goan vindaloo, with garlic, red wine vinegar, chiles, and potatoes. Chintha chiguru is more aromatic, with your protein cooked in tender tamarind leaves, coriander powder, cumin, aromatic spices.
Biryani is India’s version of a stir-fry with long grain basmati rice, slow-cooked, saffron, and aromatic spices combined with vegetables and your choice of protein. Deccan serves nearly a dozen versions, featuring chicken, goat, lamb, fish, and shrimp, as well as vegetarian versions with egg, paneer, and cauliflower as the showcased ingredient.
Of course, an Indian meal without naan would be like a Mexican meal without tortillas, unthinkable! The variety of Deccan is again mind-boggling, ranging from plain to butter-basted, to such additions as garlic, green chiles, rosemary, herbs de Provence, onion, and even a sweet version with a mix of nuts, coconut, and raisins.
1149 S. Federal, Pompano Beach
Passage to India
Here’s my take on some other local Indian restaurants
1521 E Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale
Excellent but pricey, with a very Americanized menu.
1515 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
Kind of mediocre, with a lot of attitude.
1672 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park
Less than mediocre and surly waiters.
6880 Powerline Rd., Fort Lauderdale
Great street food, good for take-out. My friends Sumner and Milton swear by this place.
Great Indian Grill
2692 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach
Okay, but nothing special. Certainly misnamed.
3801 Griffin Rd., Fort Lauderdale
The blandest Indian food I ever ate. This is to Indian food what Taco Bell is to Mexican cuisine.