Another installment of the now weekly Healthy NYC Restaurant Reviews- where I help people realize that being in great shape doesn’t mean that you don’t ever get to eat out or have a normal social life, as there are always ways to have a quality dining experience and not compromise your diet. Every week I feature a new cuisine, and the great part about the reviews is that even though a specific NYC restaurant is reviewed, the rules used to make better and healthier dish selections apply to any restaurant with the same cuisine for the most part. This week we feature the Indian Cuisine of Tamarind Restaurant in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. Thanks for reading my posts and I hope that they go a long way to helping you stay healthy while still being able to have a good time with friends and family.
I will admit that I do have a bias towards Indian foods. One of the interesting parts of coming from the West Indies is the merging of so many cultures and peoples to create a very unique and cosmopolitan society. Indian delicacies are very much a staple in the island of Trinidad where I grew up and that my great-great grandparents were from India has imprinted on me a certain affinity for both the food and culture.
I was introduced to TamarindRestaurant by one of my best friends when we met for lunch as it was very close to where I worked at the time and ever since it has been one of my top picks for Indian food in New York City. The décor at this restaurant is extremely impressive and is a great match for the great quality of food served there. One point that I have not made in past reviews has been that I always check the Department of Health Restaurant Inspection Information for each and every restaurant that I go to. I had a bout of food poisoning about a decade and a half ago that awarded me a night in the hospital and I learned after that experience to always err on the side of caution when eating out. It is a great service that most New Yorkers are not too aware of- that you can get up to date health information on just about any restaurant in NYC just from a click of the mouse, and I encourage everyone to do a check of the places that they frequent- as they might be a bit surprised at times as to the number and nature of violations. That being said, Tamarind has a clean bill of health with a more than decent passing grade from the DOH after cleaning up their act some with a near failing grade several inspections before. ( You can get a detailed review of inspections for any restaurnat in NYC here.)
Today I will go over the lunch menu at Tamarind, as it is still fresh in my memory from a business meeting that I had there several weeks ago (the restaurant is only a stone’s throw away from the 19th Street Gym where I have my personal training business). Tamarind can be a bit on the pricey side (and worth it in my opinion) but they do have a prix fixe lunch menu for only $24.00 (tax and gratuity not included). For a restaurant of this pedigree, I would call this a true steal, and the menu items are indeed diet friendly, if you know what you are getting. As a rule, soups at restaurants are usually not a great idea as the sodium content can be several times the amount required for several days all in one bowl of soup! It doesn’t have to taste salty to be high in sodium and for the water retention and health hazard it can be for those with pre-existing conditions it isn’t worth it. The answer to “Soup or salad?” is always “Salad.” Here for lunch they have some great protein choices as appetizers- Masaledar Boti Kabab Masala- grilled lamb in a tomato sauce and Nizami Machli Tikkasalmon marinated in yogurt, fenugreek leaves, carom seeds, chickpea flour andmustard oil both are great picks and come in portions adequate enough to satisfy your taste buds without overdoing it on your stomach. (When eating out I always tell my clients that being full is not the goal of a quality eating experience, the goal is to enjoy your food and if you really want to see your waistline stay trim, always leave with your stomach just about two thirds full.) For the dinner menu there are more selections, but as a rule I would advise you to try to stick to proteins as an appetizer and don’t have the higher carbohydrate choices if it is late in the day or if you are not going to be very active afterwards. The roti ( a special whole wheat unleavened bread) is to die for, but only have it in moderation.
For the lunch entrees almost everything is acceptable if you keep the sauces on the side and stay away from the dairy products. The Pudine Ke Tikke- a marinated chicken tandoori dish, Potli Baigan- stuffed eggplant (ask for the sauce on the side) and the Hyderabadi Korma- a delicious braised lamb. Again ask for the sauce on the side. All the main courses are served with potato, green peas tikki, spinach rice, onion seed kulcha, and a vegetable, so Tamarind is really a place where you can go out to eat and not have to feel guilty about enjoying yourself. Dessert, well, I wish I could say that it would not be a problem, but I always try to press home the point that you don’t have to end a meal with something sweet. Before the 1870’s sugar really wasn’t part of the lives of most people on the planet, and we were far healthier for it!
For dinner the choices are almost endless, everything from chicken to goat to lamb to seafood. Once you adhere to the guidelines outlined above, pretty much everything is on the menu for you with a couple of tweaks here and there. I hope you enjoyed this week’s guide and tune in for next week’s review!
Tamarind- 41 E 22nd Street, Btwn Bway & Park Ave (Flatiron)
Food Type: Indian
Price:A bit on the expensive side, but they have a great $24 prix fixe lunch.
Quality Rating: I give the food 4 and stars out of 5 and the décor and ambiance 4 stars.
Diet Friendly Rating: 4 stars. There are a lot of things that you can order here and stay on point!
Health Rating: A passing grade from the NYC Department of Health after cleaning up their act some.
Indian Cuisine Rules For Staying In Shape:
1. Ask for sauces on the side, have appetizers only if you are going to be active later or if it is earlier in the day.
2. Choose protein foods as appetizers, especially if you are going to be eating a lot of carbohydratetype foods such as nan and roti with your entrée.
3. Have water as your main drink- you’ll save a lot of calories that way.
4. Don’t overdo it. Think in terms of having a quality dining experience and not paying to fill your stomach to the point of bursting.
5. Learn to do without dessert. Like anything else, the taste for sweets is learned and anything learned can be unlearned with time.
6. Enjoy yourself!
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