The bright orange and yellow walls and the fragrant smell of spices that spilled from the open kitchen greeted me as I walked through the door at Tarka Indian Kitchen. With tall ceilings, hanging lightbulbs and Indian music playing from the speakers, the space felt open and inviting.
Tarka is a restaurant that boasts of fast and affordable Indian food, which made me interested enough to try it.
Looking over the menu, I found many options sounded good, such as the chicken kabob salad or one of the curries, but I eventually chose the Biryanis, which is basmati rice stir-fried with garlic, ginger, onions, spices and your choice of protein and spice level. Out of the chicken, lamb, shrimp, vegetables and paneer, I picked chicken, and the spice level I selected was mild.
I ordered at the walk-up counter and while there I decided to try the mango lemonade for my beverage.
I grabbed my number and sat at a high-top table to wait for my food. During that time, I got well-acquainted with my mango lemonade. It wasn’t as transparent as other lemonades are. It reminded me of orange juice in look and even in flavor, without the kick of citrus.
The mango came through the most, while the lemonade was an aftertaste. I enjoyed it.
My food took a little long to come out. I didn’t necessarily mind, but Tarka prides itself on being fast.
When the Biryanis was set in front of me, the mix of spices captured my full attention.
The sense of smell a big part of taste, and so with a strong smell the flavors of the dish came through even more when eating it. I tasted the garlic and ginger first, and the most, and liked the combination of the flavors on the rice and chicken.
The mild spices were, well, mild. I played it safe, but it was perfect for me. I’m not a fan of having my throat and tongue feel like they’re on fire, and the mild dished warmed them slightly.
I liked the dish but barely made a dent in it. Whether that’s because rice is filling or I drank too much mango lemonade, I don’t know, but I got to take home leftovers for a second meal.
Overall, I thought it was a good place to stop for lunch. And if you’re new to Indian food, Tarka is a good place to start.
Tarka Indian Kitchen
Address: 721 W. 19th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Friday–Saturday
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Biryanis