This post is a little late, but I was unable to upload the photos from Burundi so I am posting it now so please enjoy as I enjoyed the food.
On a recent trip to Bujumbura, Burundi I found myself at Tandoor (the better Indian restaurant in the city) with a group of coworkers from the USAID BAP project. The first thing you will notice walking in is the short statue of a Bavarian looking guy which is kind of strange since this is an Indian place. Once you look past the little statue you see the restaurant is set up as an open garden with a sheltered dining area and it looks like an inside dining room as well. This post is based on my second (or maybe third trip) to the restaurant, it is hard to remember as I ate here more than any other place while in Bujumbura.
The next thing you might notice is the setting sun water feature on the Western side of the restaurant, the water is off during the day but if you come for dinner the fountain is turned on and lights are shining on it giving a nice effect. If you look to the other side of the dining area you may see the twin wall with the rising sun on the eastern side.
Before sitting down to look at the menu I decided to take a short trip to the restroom to wash up. The path leading to the restroom and the restrooms themselves are nicely hidden behind the setting sun which adds to the atmosphere of the place. When I walked into the restroom I was about to walk out and complain about the cleanliness of the place as it looked like, well let’s just say it looked like someone had some very bad Indian food and got a little sick all over the walls… but in truth it turned out to be just a very poor choice of paint (or a clever choice to hide it if someone does get sick). This paint in the restroom is my only problem with the entire restaurant. I am sure you will understand what I mean when you look at the picture below.
Now back to the table and on to the good stuff (the food).
Sat back down and started looking through the menu and the first thing to catch my eye was the Mumbai Chicken which was described as having a mouthful taste. Looked through my options a little more before deciding to try the Mumbai Chicken and adding a starter of Tandoori Mushrooms and a side of Garlic Naan, I always have Garlic Naan when I have Indian.
I sat back and relaxed with my book while I waited for the food to arrive. After a rather long wait of close to 30 minutes my mushrooms arrived. The first thing I noticed was the fantastic smell of the Indian spices on the mushrooms which had been marinated in Indian spices before being cooked in the tandoori oven (see Hang’s post on tandoori to learn more about these ovens). The dish was served as a ring of mushrooms, some cut in half and some whole, surrounding a nice chutney of cucumber, onion, cabbage, and what was either little pieces of tomato or red pepper (I think it was the pepper), with a slice of lime on top.
First thing I did was squeeze a little of the lime over the chutney and a few of the mushrooms before skewering a mushroom on my fork so I could try this fantastic looking dish. The mushroom tasted as good as it smelled and the Indian flavors just exploded in my mouth with a nice mix of curry, cumin, and well I really don’t know what else but it was really good. I decided the lime did not do much for the mushroom so did not squeeze any more lime and just ate the rest of the mushrooms as they were. Next it was on to the chutney which was a nice blend of the cool cucumber with some rather spicy chili giving it a hot cooling effect on the palate. I found the best way to eat this was to get a little of the chutney on the fork with a squeeze of lime and then add a mushroom, lift fork to mouth, insert fork, savor, repeat… Now my original plan was to eat about half of my appetizer so I would not end up over eating, but that plan was soon forgotten as I was munching on the last mushroom and scrapping every last bit of the chutney onto my fork.
As I was eating the last of the chutney (and resisting the temptation to lift the plate up and lick it clean) my Mumbai Chicken arrived. The chicken was served in a traditional Indian way, or what I think of as traditional, in a copper dish resting over a candle to keep it warm, with a basket of Garlic Naan on the side.
I brought my plate up to the copper serving dish and spooned out a good helping of chicken, then ripped of a piece of naan to round out the plate and prepared myself for the mouthful taste.
As it says in the description the dish consisted of boneless chicken pieces cooked in a gravy of chopped onion, capsicum (pepper, and I think a mix of black pepper and chili pepper) finished off with cream and butter which gave it a nice rich full-bodied taste that lingered after you finished the bite. The chicken was nice and juicy, the sauce rich and creamy, there was a nice mild bite to everything and all in all I think the menu gave it the perfect description of having a mouth full taste.
As I said earlier in the post I found myself eating at this restaurant several times over the two weeks that I was there and had many wonderful dishes including more Mumbai Chicken, Chicken Saagwala (with a spinach and pannier cheese gravy, Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala (my go to Indian dish), lots of Garlic Naan, and a few orders of Cheese Naan. Every thing I ate there was very good but I think the Mumbai Chicken was the best dish I ate, which may be why I had it at least 3 times.
The only advice I have if you find yourself in Bujumbura craving Indian food is that you ask for it spicier than you want as they seem to be rather timid on the spice. I stared out asking for everything medium but by the third visit I was asking for hot and on the last extra hot (which to me was just a little past medium).
I hope you enjoyed reading about this as much as I enjoyed eating it.