And the Answers
What style of Indian food do you offer?
I've heard that there are many different types of Indian cuisine.
Most Indian restaurants offer food from only one region of India--the
Northwest or Punjab region. While this food is delicious (and we have a
few dishes from this region as well), it is hardly representative of the
tremendous variety of cuisines that are to be found in India. It is fair
to say that the variation of styles of cuisine in India is unmatched in
any other country in the world. While it is impossible for any one
restaurant to have examples of all of these cuisines (that would
entail having thousands of dishes on the menu!), we believe we are unique
in offering dishes from all over India, including several family dishes
that cannot be found in any Indian restaurant in the world.
We are fortunate in having a chef who comes from Bengal (the Eastern
part of India), and has worked in Mysore (in the South of India), but
specializes in Tandoori cuisine (from the North of India). In addition,
the owners of the restaurants are both good cooks in their own right, and
hail from Bombay (Western and coastal food) and Bangalore (a different
area of Southern India) and they have also influenced the menu with their
family dishes as well. Hence, Tandoor has more expertise in the
cooking of different regions of India than almost any Indian restaurant,
even in India!
Will the food be too spicy for me (or will it be spicy enough)?
It is a commonly held but incorrect belief that all Indian food is spicy.
Yes, by and large we do use many more spices in our cooking, including "hot" ones, than that of most other cuisines. However, the level of spiciness or
hotness in a dish depends very much on the style of the dish, the region from
which the dish comes, and the other ingredients in the dish. For example, a
creamy korma dish that has a blend of minced nuts, raisins, cardamom,
fennel, etc., is a very delicately and subtly flavoured dish that is not spicy
at all, and in fact would be ruined by the addition of hot chili. On the other
hand, there are some curry dishes that in India would be made quite spicy with
lots of hot chili peppers.
Having said that, we do have a dilemma that in Argentina, most Argentines do
not want their dishes very spicy at all, while Indians who live here as well as
other foreigners who are used to spicy food, and in fact miss it in Argentina,
would come to an Indian restaurant specifically looking for spicy food. Most
Indian restaurants in the West "solve" this problem by preparing all the food
bland, and then giving you the option of "spicing it up" from "1 star" (mildly
hot) to "5 stars" (super-hot). This is nothing short of sacrilegious. Indian
food was never meant to be cooked this way and we at Tandoor will never cook it
this way. The particular blend of spices used in each dish that give that dish
its flavour are meant to be cooked with the dish, sometimes for several
hours. It cannot be added later without spoiling the dish by giving it a "raw
So what is our secret at Tandoor? We offer a range of dishes of different
styles, all authentically Indian (though some are lesser known), some of which
are not normally made spicy even in India, and others that are. The spicy ones
we don't make extremely spicy, to make them accessible to a larger number of
people. These are well-marked on our menus, but you can always ask the waiter if
you have a doubt. If you want a spicy dish made non-spicy, we cannot do it, since the
spices have been cooked with the dish as they are supposed to be (but we have a
wide selection of non-spicy or very mildly spiced dishes). If you want a
non-spicy dish made spicy, or a spicy dish made even spicier, we can do it up to
a point (perhaps one "level"). Beyond that, it would compromise the dish too
much, especially for certain subtly-flavoured non-spicy dishes that were never
meant to be spicy. But, upon request, we will be happy to provide chili fanatics
with raw chili peppers (as many people do in India) or a hot sauce on the side for them to experiment with!
If all this sounds too complicated, well, perhaps it is a little. But our
staff has been trained to handle your concerns and preferences about the
spiciness of the food, so please do convey your needs and preferences to them,
and they will look after you! And if a dish ends up being a little spicier than
you would like, ask for some raita, which is a yoghurt-based condiment
that is very cooling and neutralizes the spicy feeling, or have it with more
basmati rice, which is a delicious way to dilute the spiciness.
Have the dishes been adjusted for the Argentine palate? I will be dining
with some Argentine friends who have very conservative tastes when it comes to
food--what do you recommend?
Well, most people who come to us and who have never had Indian food before,
whether or not they be Argentine, come looking for a culinary adventure.
And without exception, they have loved the food. Some have even surprised
themselves by trying out a spicier dish than they thought they were used to and
enjoying the sensation! But the answer to the question is that no, aside from
the consideration we have given to having authentically non-spicy or less spicy
dishes available (see the previous question), the dishes are completely
authentic and have not been adapted. (Our chef is from India, and we have
brought him here recently just for the restaurant, and we doubt he would know
how to "Argentinize" a dish anyway!)
So if your party includes someone who is "willing to come along" but really
all he wants to eat is a Milanesa con papas fritas, we may not be able to
cook him a milanesa, but we'll happily take on
the challenge of being his first introduction to Indian food. And if
there is a very young child, for example, who just can't or won't eat anything
with unfamiliar flavours (we understand how that goes ...), we can make a plain
chicken kebab in the Tandoor for him, or otherwise improvise something simple.
It may not be very Indian, but in cases like that we'll try out best to
accommodate. So do consult your waiter if you have special needs in your group.
Why isn't rice or bread included with all the dishes?
This is a frequent question that we get, since on one hand, at many
restaurants it is common to get a basket of bread rolls (usually from a nearby
bakery) and, on the
other hand, many Indian restaurants around the world have "dinner plates" that
include a portion of rice.
There are two parts to the answer to this question: one is a commercial part
and the other more important part is the artistic part. They are not
entirely separable but we'll do our best to explain the reasons (this may be
more detail than you wanted, but it's the only way to give a complete
First of all, we use only basmati rice imported from India (and we do
not "dilute" it with other cheaper long-grain as unfortunately is done in some
Indian restaurants). It is the
most famous rice in the world and has a natural fragrance, delicious taste, and
wonderful long grains. It is emblematic of India and it's the only rice we use
because it is so wonderful (the "artistic" part). In Argentina, this rice costs
ten times as much as the common rice sold everywhere. The reason is that
basmati rice is sold in an international market and commands
international prices, to which import costs (transportation, inspections and
duties) must be added.
Now, our menu includes dishes from many different regions of India. Rice is
eaten all over India, but in some regions, some of the dishes, depending on
their consistency, flavours, ingredients, traditions, etc., are more commonly
eaten with naan (a bread baked in the Tandoor) or paratha (a flat
bread cooked on a griddle) or apam (a rice crepe), etc. In our menu, we
list the bread or rice that best accompanies the dish in our opinion, but the
customer is free to choose what he likes. So it doesn't makes sense to include
basmati rice, an expensive item, with all dishes (thus raising the price
of all dishes) when it is not necessarily the best option for that dish.
As for the other Indian breads that we have, while it doesn't have the same
cost issue as does the basmati rice, unlike breads served at most
restaurants, Indian breads need to be served not just hot but freshly made. All
restaurants don't do this, but the difference in taste is so dramatic, that this
is the only way we serve our breads (to order, and freshly made ... there's that
perfectionist "artistic part" speaking again). So it's a labour-intensive
process, dependent on the dish and the preference of the customer, and we don't
want to pre-package the combinations inappropriately. We do serve some
complimentary naan with an Indian chutney (a semi-liquid condiment) as a
"palate-teaser" at the start of the meal, and a naan is included with the
Tandoori appetizers, but we recommend that you order fresh (and hot) naan
or basmati rice, etc., with your main courses.
Do you do "Fusion Food"? Are you part of the "Slow Food" movement?
Indian food is Fusion Food. It is the fusion of over 4000 years
of culinary traditions, invasions, conquests, immigrations and
emigrations. In addition, although India is one country now, it used to be
a conglomeration of many states and city-states, each with its own
language and culinary traditions. The Indian food of today is indeed
partially a fusion of all these cuisines, most of which retain their
distinctive identities in the dishes of the regions. In terms of the trend
in recent years, however, of combining foods from different parts of the
world (e.g., Indian and French for example), no, we do not do "fusion
food," as there is no need to. There is so much unexplored territory
within the realm of Indian food that even people from India are unfamiliar
with specialty dishes from other parts of India.
The only non-traditional fusion that we do, quite successfully too we
believe, is the fusion of the best in Indian food with the best of
As far as the Slow Food movement: While we don't call ourselves a "Slow
Food" restaurant, in spirit we are all for it. "Slow Food" is the
antithesis of "Fast Food." It explores the joy of creating something
slowly and the rewards of patience in its creation. Are we "Slow
Food?" A naan made in our Tandoor cooks completely in just 30
seconds. A biryani takes perhaps 4 hours to cook. All of our
desserts are made with mawa, which is a reduction of milk cooked
for about 6 hours on a stove. Gulab Jamun, another dessert, we let
marinate in its syrup for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours before
we serve it. Are we "Slow Food?" We never thought about it that way ...
but we take the time to create each dish that that dish needs to be done
Your menu seems to be on the small side in terms of the number of
selections? And it's missing my favourite dish! Are you going to add more dishes
(especially my favourite one)?
There are again two parts to the answer to this question. We are currently
(November 2007) still on our inaugural menu from June 2007, when we opened. This
menu was indeed a little on the small side as we wanted to make sure as we
opened for the first time that we were doing a few things very well, and not
over-extending ourselves to the point that quality suffered on any of our
dishes. Indeed we are well past that point now, and our Spring/Summer menu for
2007 will have additional items. In particular, we will add a soup or two, some
appetizers in addition to the Tandoori appetizers we currently have
(e.g., the much-requested samosas). In addition, we will add a few
additional main courses, and one or two desserts more as well. In keeping with
our mission of bringing variety and the "undiscovered" part of Indian cuisine
out of the homes and available to the public, these will again include dishes
that you may never have seen in an Indian restaurant!
The second part of the answer is that we are never going to be a
"Chinese-menu" type of Indian restaurant, as many indeed are, that have a large
menu of 100 or 200 or more different items, including anything that anyone has
ever asked for. It is really impossible for an Indian restaurant to do this and
maintain any kind of integrity with the food the way it is
supposed to be cooked. The only way for a restaurant to do this, and indeed
the large majority of Indian restaurants in the world do this (and no
Indian family ever does this at home!) is to keep pre-cooked ingredients ready
and mix them with the spices and herbs for the last 10 minutes before
This is not the way Indian food is meant to be prepared. The essence of
almost every Indian dish is created by the marinating of the meats and/or
vegetables in the curry and the herbs and spices from anywhere for a few hours
to a day or more. Some spices must be cooked at a high temperature, others at a
medium temperature and a few are in fact added late in the cooking to keep them
from overcooking. Even the
tandoori dishes that take only 10 minutes to cook in the high-temperature
Tandoor have been marinating for several hours or a day beforehand. There is
an art to this and it makes a difference in the flavours of the food. If this is
not done, the dishes have a harsh "raw-spice" taste to them, or have a generic
So just like boutique or fine-cuisine restaurants of any style anywhere in
the world, we try to offer a small but well-selected and very carefully and
often elaborately prepared set of dishes on our menu. This may not be what you
are used to at Indian restaurants, but we promise that you will taste the difference
in the food.
In addition, we also do plan to change the menu seasonally, to use seasonal
ingredients and have dishes appropriate to the season, as well as to provide
diversity and new dishes for our clients. To that end, we continue to search out
more "secret family dishes" from India, dishes that you won't find in other
Indian restaurants, and add them to our menu as we discover them. This also
means that, regrettably, some dishes will occasionally need to be removed from
the menu to make room for a new discovery. But change is good, the removal won't
be permanent, and our menu will always be authentic from the cultural and
I am allergic to certain ingredients. What
ingredients do you use and how can I be sure about what a dish has and doesn't
If you have specific allergies, please mention that to our waiters and
they will in turn consult the kitchen. Here are some categories of foods
that frequently come up in questions about allergies, but in general it is
better to ask, since the menu description might not necessarily list every
ingredient in the dish. Please do not take this as a comprehensive
or complete guide, as menus and preparations do change. If in doubt,
please have the staff consult the kitchen!
Nuts: Some of our dishes, including some desserts, use cashew
nuts, almonds and pistachios. We do not currently use peanuts, although
it is an ingredient in certain Indian dishes that we may add to the menu
in the future.
Dairy products: All of our desserts use milk or milk products
in some form. In addition, some dishes use paneer (a form of
cheese), yoghurt or cream, and this is generally identified in the menu.
In a few cases, cream is not used in the dish, but a small swirl of
cream is used to decorate a dish that otherwise has no dairy product but
this can easily be eliminated upon request.
Gluten: Just one or two dishes use flour, in very small
quantities (the main course Ku Ku Pak and the dessert Gulab
Artificial flavourings and colours: We do not use artifical
flavours at all, and food colouring is used only in the decoration on
the outside of the plate of some desserts (but not in or on the dessert
itself, and is not intended to be consumed).
If there is any category of allergy or food restriction that you think
should be added to this FAQ, please do contact us.
Why is the Tandoori Chicken not red as I
am used to? And the rice does not have the orange and pink grains that I've seen
at Indian restaurants?
Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka are traditionally made with chillies from
Kashmir, which are bright red but not too hot. These chillies are not available
outside of Kashmir (even in India they are hard to find outside the region of
Kashmir), so many restaurants use other types of chillies that have almost the
same flavour, and make up the colour by adding food colouring. We too use other
chillies with the same flavour, but we do not believe in using artificial food
colouring, so our chicken does not have the artificial bright red colour you may
be used to.
The same goes for the rice. You will see only a small amount of orange in our
rice, which comes from the natural saffron that we use. The red, orange and pink
grains of rice you may have seen in some Indian restaurants, while they may look
pretty, again generally come from artificial colours. (There is a rice dish that
is naturally yellow that comes from adding turmeric to the rice, and if the rice
is entirely yellow or pale orange, it's probably turmeric rice.)
Do you offer delivery or take-out?
What about catering or lunch?
We will be starting delivery and take-out soon. Please add your name to our
mailing list to be informed when we start
delivery (we will offer take-out also at the same time).
We are not currently open to the public for lunch, but if you have a large
group (20 or more) and wish to do a special lunch, please
contact us and we will be happy to arrange something special for you.
As far as catering, for now, we are focusing on the more individualized
fine-dining experience in our dining room, as opposed to the mass production
implied by large catering orders, but please contact us to discuss your catering
needs, and we may be able to accommodate smaller orders (events of up to 100
Why do you take reservations only
until 9 pm? And what happens after that? How long do I have to wait?
Owing to the popularity of the restaurant, we are frequently full,
especially later in the evenings and on weekends. Because of our small
size (just 48 seats), however, we don't have a constant turnover of tables
every 10 minutes as a larger restaurant may have. Hence, when we used to
take reservations at any time and on any day, we often had a situation
where there were numerous people waiting for a table while there were 3 or
4 reserved tables lying empty for over half an hour, waiting for the
parties who had reserved them to arrive! This was frustrating both for our
clients and for us and so we decided to have seating on a first-come
first-served basis after 9 pm, and indeed this drastically reduced the
average waiting times on busy nights.
However, we recognize that some people don't like to wait or like to
plan in advance so, unlike other restaurants that have a "no-reservations"
policy, we do accept reservations for the first hour (from 8 pm to 9 pm,
including on weekends).
In general, there is little or no wait on weekdays (Monday through
Thursday) nor early on weekends (before 9 pm, even if you didn't make a
reservations). You may always call the restaurant at 4821-3676 before
coming if you would like to check how busy we are on a particular night.
Can I buy a Gift Certificate for
Tandoor to give as a gift to someone? Are there any restrictions on its use?
Yes, you can and you can choose the denomination of the certificate! A
gift certificate bought with cash can be treated like cash, so there is no
restriction on its use. (For accounting purposes, we need to have an
expiration date on all certificates, but it will be for at least one
Your decor is nice and subtle. But
quite frankly it doesn't look very "Indian." Why don't you have more typically
Indian articles in the restaurant for decoration?
Actually, we have numerous items from Indian in our decor, but we have
intentionally kept the effect subtle and understated. It is,
unfortunately, a common experience to find Indian restaurants laden with
elephant statues, statues of goddesses, cheap brass trinkets, and
what-not. We've chosen, instead, to use more subtle touches, such as
contemporary copper silverware, hand-hammered copper bowls for serving
rice and certain other dishes, hand-embroidered silk and raw-silk fabrics
tastefully placed around the dining room, and other subtle touches. All of
these have been selected by our families in India specifically for the
restaurant and are not mass-produced decorations. We also have pleasant
but unobtrusive classical Indian music of sitar and tabla
playing in the background. We believe that this creates a more pleasant
dining ambience, and matches the subtleties and nuances of our cuisine!
What do I do if I am not satisfied
with the food or service I receive?
This, fortunately, is not a Frequently Asked Question! Almost
everyone raves about the experience they have at Tandoor, as much
in the food as in the service. However, we are always striving to improve
in every little way that we can, so we do want to know about
anything that was not perfect or any suggestions that you may have. If you
are dining with us and something about the food is not right (perhaps it
was not hot enough, or perhaps spicier than you expected) and the waiter
cannot address your concern, please don't hesitate to ask for the manager
(who will in fact be one of the two owners) and we will try our best to
make it right for you. The same goes for the service or anything about the
ambience that isn't quite right (perhaps the air-conditioner is too cool,
or the music is a little loud). And do let us know as soon as you can, so
we can fix it as soon as possible!
If, for some reason, you would rather not bring it up at the time, we
would still like to hear from you, either via the survey you receive at
the end of the meal, or via email on our contact
What does Tandoor mean? What is the difference between Tandoor
Tandoor is the name of the traditional clay oven of Northwest India.
The original of the Tandoor is from the Middle East (Persia, Arabia,
Afghanistan) but is now unique to the cuisine of the Indian sub-continent. Most of our appetizers are cooked in the Tandoor (which we imported from India).
The Tandoor is heated by coal (gas Tandoors are also available but we use the
traditional coal Tandoor as it gives a better flavour to the food) and
temperatues reach up to 500 degrees Centigrade (900 degrees Fahrenheit). This
high temperature allows the meat to cook rapidly without drying or giving up its
"juices"; hence the kebabs from the Tandoor are very moist, tender and
delicious! In addition, the smoke from the meat juices dripping onto the hot
coals and rising back up permeate the meat with a very special smoky flavour
characteristic of food cooked in the Tandoor.
Tandoori is simply the adjective form of Tandoor and means
"cooked in a Tandoor," although in some places that don't have a real Tandoor
(we, of course, do), it may mean just "in the style of Tandoor." The Pollo
Tanduri [sic] that one sees in Argentina is an invented name and bears no
resemblance to the real Tandoori Chicken (the usual Argentine version is
just a dish of chicken in a cream sauce to which commercial curry powder has
been added--see the FAQ article on Curry and Curry Powder below).
Is it true than Indians don't eat beef? Or is all Indian food in fact
India has about 82% Hindus (who practise the religion of Hinduism),
about 12% Muslims (who practise Islam), 3% Christians (most Indian Christians are Catholics),
and the remaining 3% practise Buddhism,
Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Jainism and others. About half of Hindus are
vegetarians entirely and don't eat fish or meat of any kind. The remaining half
traditionally don't eat beef at all. Muslims are generally not vegetarians, but
don't eat pork or ham. They would and do eat beef but since the Muslim food
tradition comes from Persia and the Middle East, that don't have large pastures
for raising cows, the Muslims generally eat lamb or goat meat much more than
they do beef. In addition, of course, lamb is eaten by the non-vegetarian Hindus
as well. In summary, about 55% of Indians (about 600 million people!) do
eat meat, of which 180 million would eat beef as well (but usually prefer lamb).
As a result, beef is not found very much in Indian food in India. Restaurants
outside India do use beef, as it is usually cheaper than lamb in most
countries, and is in fact a reasonable substitute. Even though Argentina has
excellent world-famous beef, we have chosen to stay with the Indian tradition
and offer lamb on our menu in the dishes that are made with red meat. And, after
all, Argentine lamb from Patagonia is also world-renowned!
What is Curry? And is it the same as Curry Powder?
There are two great misconceptions about Indian food that seem to be
universally and unshakably held in the Western Hemisphere: The first is that
Indian food is synonymous with Curry and the second is that Curry
is a spice or a spice blend. We would like to dispel both these myths
completely. But first we have to understand the original of the name Curry.
The current meaning of Curry, in its most general definition, is
"sauce," but in particular a sauce made with Indian flavours. This covers an
extremely wide range of flavours and preparations, just as the word sauce
in English covers hundreds of different preparations that bear no resemblance to
each other. So the word Curry by itself tells very little about the
flavours that one might expect to encounter. Hence, Chicken Curry only
tells you to expect a dish with chicken in a sauce (as opposed to a dry chicken
dish). It does not say too much about the flavours you would expect, other than
that they will be from some part of India. A Curry from the South of India would
use coconut, mustard seeds, fenugreek and other ingredients. A curry from
Kashmir in the far north might use yoghurt, cumin, almonds, pistachios and
Curry is not, as most people in the West believe, a blend of spices.
Curry powder is often used to describe a premixed blend of spices that
you can find in supermarkets, that no self-respecting Indian cook or chef or
housewife would ever use. This Curry Powder is a generic premixed blend of several spices,
including cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic powder, and perhaps half a dozen
other spices (and generally a greater proportion of the cheaper spices). There
is no Indian dish that ever uses all these spices and certainly not in the same
proportions, but if you use curry powder you are stuck with the same
generic taste for everything you ever make with it! So if you have a jar of
curry powder in your pantry, do yourself a favour and throw it away, and instead
buy some cumin, coriander, turmeric (use sparingly) and a few other spices,
and use a recipe that specifies the individual spices and not one that says
So now you know: Curry is a term that roughly means sauce, but is mistakenly
used to mean Curry Powder. And Curry Powder itself is a largely British
invention that originated as one particular blend of spices that was used in one
particular curry (out of hundreds), and has subsequently been "expanded" to
include a larger and larger number, to create what is ultimately a disharmonious
blend of spices.
Should Indian food be called Comida
India or Comida Hind˙ in Spanish?
In Argentina, the word Hind˙ is used to refer to people from India,
and hence also used as an adjective to refer to food, dress, etc., from India or
of the people of India. This is technically not correct, although it is common
usage here, since Hind˙ is really someone who practises the religion of
Hinduism, which is indeed the majority of the population, but cannot be
used to refer to all the people of India, nor is it any longer an adjective used
to refer to the entire country.
So the correct term term for the food of Indian is Comida or Cocina India.
Since in Argentina this may be confused with, perhaps, food of or influenced by
the native Americans, we avoid this ambiguity by calling our cuisine Cocina
de la India, which is unambiguous.