Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Hampshire's Finest

I have discovered some of the best Indian food ever, and it's tucked away in the ski town of North Conway, New Hampshire. To be fair, I've loved Shalimar since last summer but this seemed like the perfect time to post about it! I love Shalimar so much it made my top ten list of reasons I was excited to return to camp this summer; it's that good! Since I've been going there for two summers now, I've gotten to try a few dishes and I thought I'd tell you about my favorites. The restaurant is tucked in between a large area of outlet malls and the picturesque old town of North Conway but is beyond authentic! The unassuming location should not deter diners! The inside is warm and the family that owns and operates Shalimar is kind and attentive. The tables are decorated, underneath sheets of glass with notes of adoration from past diners. The warmth of the restaurant itself just foreshadows the homey, authentic, warm flavors of the cuisine.

For starters, the mango lassi is delicious! It's richer than many but full of creamy, real mango flavor. Each table is served crispy papadan with two contrasting sauces. The first is a thick, spicy sauce almost like a chili paste and the second is a runny, sweet sauce. Both are delicious on their own but the combination is the perfect mix of sweet & spicy and textures. All of the lamb dishes are served with large, tender, flavorful chunks of meat. The korma sauce, a spicy yogurt sauce, is full of spice while simultaneously refreshing, all without being too creaky or rich. Another dish I've tried is the chicken tikka masala: an Indian staple. The chicken is well seasoned with a dry rub and grilled (what makes it chicken tikka) and the masala sauce is awesome. My favorite entrees are probably malai kofta or paneer masala, both of which are fresh, full of flavor, and pack a kick. The chana masala (chick peas) make a great side dish! The best part about Shalimar though, and the item I craved most during the year, is the coconut naan. I'd never seen this on the menu at other Indian restaurants before visiting Shalimar, and still haven't (trust me, I've looked everywhere), which is part of the reaso it's so coveted. The naan itself is perfectly cooked to give it a subtle grill flavor and the perfect amount of chewiness. The bread is then stuffed with sweet coconut and raisins. It is unreal; I literally could eat baskets on baskets of the stuff! It is so deliciously sweet on the inside but the savoriness of the bread keeps it an acceptable accompaniment for dinner, not just dessert.

If you find yourself in North Conway, anywhere or New Hampshire, or anywhere else in New England, Shalimar is definitely worth a visit!
Shalimar of India on Urbanspoon

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