Flatiron Lunch: Indikitch’s Serves a New Take on Indian Food
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
About a month ago, Indikitch opened along 23rd between 5th and 6th Avenues, a stretch with many vacant storefronts, so lots of opportunity, and a demand for more lunch options. I held off until now to let them settle into service, which was a struggle considering how much I love Indian food. (I know this isn’t the place, but I have to mention, for those of you closer to Grand Central, that I tried Shalom Bombay for dinner recently, and I do not recommend it!)
When I went to Indikitch at 12:51pm, the line was to the door and even wrapped a little at the front of the store. I could not believe it. It took 30 minutes to finish my order, during which I endured a really loud, annoying Indian guy behind me in line explaining everything to his friend, a woman in front of me who spent several minutes talking through all the menu options with the woman starting the order, and two coworkers at the register arguing about which one of them was slowing the line. During my long wait, I kept wondering about everyone in line, “Do these people not realize they can get amazing Indian food just a few blocks away?”
I should note that if you are interested in a soup, drink or side, you can skip the line and head straight to the register. And I did hear the guy handing out menus at the front of the store say that it is only this busy from 12-2pm, so if you can shift your lunch schedule, you won’t have to wait. To speed up the process, I think the employee handing out menus should also be actively helping people navigate the menu
Looking at the menu, I debated ordering the Feast (their version of the Indian lunch special), the biryani, or the tawa sandwich. Considering India is not known for their sandwiches, I decided to stick with the two rice based options.
The pulled pork vindaloo biryani ($8.73) had good flavors, but people who already love Biryani Cart will be annoyed. It is like an imitation biryani that isn’t bad, but isn’t quite right. They start with bed of seasoned rice and top it with a mixture of tomatoes, onions and pulled pork cooked with sauce. They serve it with pineapple raita on the side, which is good as dessert, but I didn’t like it with the biryani. They also include a peanut-pepper dressing, which wasn’t quite right either.
For the feast ($9.87), I picked saag paneer as my main, basmati as my rice, classic dal, carrot salad as my salad and garlic naan. They make all the mains to order so when I placed my order, I opted to add one “pepper” of chili infused oil to the saag paneer. You can add one or two peppers (their measurement of heat not an actual chili), but I thought one pepper was perfect and wouldn’t have wanted more heat. The saag paneer was lacking that deep earthy green flavor, but they were VERY generous on the paneer. I noticed tomatoes in the saag paneer, which seems to be part of the base for all the mains, but didn’t seem right in the saag paneer.
The dal was the most authentic of the items, in my opinion, but there just wasn’t enough of it. If you like your dal to be a substantial part of the meal, I recommend skipping the salad and getting double dal (or even try for two different types of dal.) I was initially skeptical of the idea of the carrot salad (with red cabbage, raisins, cashews, sesame seeds and coriander), but it was a nice break from the other flavors.
Here’s the thing – I don’t get the set up at Indikitch. Indian curries get better as they sit and simmer. Considering you don’t mix and match sauces with proteins here, it seems gimmicky to cook every main to order. Am I ever going to willingly pick Indikitch over Bhatti? No. But maybe I am being unfair due to my love for more traditional Indian food. I do see Indikitch being very useful if you have a coworker, significant other or friend you are trying to get to try Indian but they just won’t budge. I think you could convince them by telling them it is like Indian Chipotle.
THE + (What people who like this place will say)
- Very approachable Indian food.
- An amazing amount of paneer.
- I like their new, healthier take on Indian.
THE – (What people who don’t like this place will say)
- I don’t appreciate the way they tried to “improve” Indian food .
- With the calorie counts listed, I wonder if they held back on ingredients that would have added flavor.
- They need to speed up their process. 30 minutes is too long to wait on line.
Indikitch, 25 West 23rd Street btwn 5th and 6th Aves, (646) 590-7152