From our contributor K.F. Schexnayder.
Masala Indian Restaurant is a gem hidden in plain sight in Lafayette. Their food and atmosphere are among the best in town, without a doubt. Their consistency, however, makes them a must frequent restaurant.
The first thing that a person who is new to the Indian food experience at Masala or anywhere should know is that all dishes are available in a spectrum of spiciness that is as follows: Mild- Medium-Hot-Indian Hot. Since we are in south Louisiana and surrounded by the most spice experienced culture, I recommend that a first timer start with Medium and move their way up once they become familiar with the food, unless they are uncharacteristically sensitive to spices. I order everything Hot, which to me makes all the difference. My mom always goes for Indian Hot, which deserves some sort of medal.
On this visit to the table, which consisted of one of my Indian cuisine eating sidekicks and me, we started with the Lettuce and Papad Cups which is savory Indian spiced ground chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves and accompanied by a traditional sweet chili sauce and lentil chips. This appetizer is the perfect starter, or meal, for the health conscious meat eater or for those new to the Indian food experience. The more adventurous palates should also try the Chicken 65 or the Samosa Tikki Chat, both of which I have had several times and often day dream about.
Their menu offers a variety of dishes to please carnivores, vegetarians and vegans, which makes it perfect for group dinners. In fact, although I am an omnivore, I often choose vegan or vegetarian dishes because they are so delicious. On this particular night however, I opted for my favorite Tandoori Shrimp, which is the Indian version of fajitas, served with aromatic basmati rice and Makhani sauce, a creamy balance to the spice of the shrimp, onions and bell peppers. If I get to choose my last meal, this is it, with a side of garlic naan, of course. My sidekick ordered the Malai Kafta, a vegetarian dish, also served with basmati rice, which consists of dumplings of fresh paneer (Indian cheese) and potatoes in a rich creamy tomato and cashew-almond sauce. This is the perfect vegetarian comfort food that even a carnivore would enjoy.
Also receiving my stamp of approval are the Vegetable Jalfreezi, Saag Paneer, Daal Tadka, Shrimp Vindaloo and the Daal Makhani. It is also worth saying that my daughter loves the Tandoori Chicken children’s plate, which comes mild, of course.
Their dessert menu is also superb with daily fresh selections that need no explanation. I have had nothing disappointing, and I have ordered it all at least twice. Also, Masala’s desserts are gorgeous, which makes eating them even more indulgent. My suggestion is to start with the crème brulee, and don’t be afraid to order two or three for the table, even if the table is two!
So hopefully, my praise of this wonderful restaurant has made it less intimidating, because once you know where to start, you will enjoy every trip to Masala as you explore your way through India.
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