India Gate was a popular destination for Chandler’s fans of curries, naan and paneer, until it closed six years ago. The family-run operation, now dubbed New India Gate, reopened on the southeast corner of Ray and Rural roads. Based on a recent visit, the new restaurant holds high the reputation of its earlier iteration.
Indian cuisine is long on infusing its meats, grains and vegetables with the flavors of spices and herbs. Other food styles may top everything with sauces, but a good curry or korma is about the flavors integrating into the chicken, lamb, beef or fish. New India Gate does an especially good job of this, even in the breads, as for instance in a garlic naan ($2.25) that is mildly garlicky in every bite.
I began my meal with a glass of mango lassi ($2.99), which is like drinking liquefied mango yogurt. I admit to an addiction to this sweet-but-never-cloying concoction. My dinner mate opted for a Diet Coke, but I forgave her. (Alcohol is not yet served at New India Gate; licensing is in process.) Editor’s Note: Since this review was published, New India Gate received its alcohol license.
We then ordered an appetizer called “vegetable assorted snacks” ($6.99) that got us one samosa, two mixed vegetable pakora, two onion bhaji and a pair of paneer pakora. Pakora are either vegetables or cheese (paneer) breaded with seasoned flour and deep-fried, and served with a cilantro dip and a savory red dip. Onion bhaji are nests of sliced and breaded onion, spiked with garlic and ginger and, again, deep-fried. As good as these are, the samosa – a pastry stuffed with potatoes and peas – will make you wish you’d order a plate full of just it.
We ordered saag paneer ($9.99) to share. The creamy spinach dish, flecked with cubes of Indian cheese, was the freshest I believe I have ever tasted.
“The spinach is from our backyard,” said my waiter, one of four family members who cook for and run the establishment, and I didn’t know whether to take that literally or as a well-earned exaggeration.
Vindaloo is a spicy curry dish in which the meat, marinated in vinegar and ginger, is served in a sauce that marries the heat of chili peppers to a sweet edge of cinnamon and/or sugar. The chicken vindaloo ($11.99) I ordered at New India Gate balanced all this well, and didn’t neglect to include plenty of cardamom along with turmeric and cumin.
The old India Gate was known for its goat curry ($12.99), so my dining mate chose to sample it. She loves lamb, but had never eaten goat before. As it turned out, goat reminded her of mutton, and was a bit “gamey” for her taste. I reassured her that, because the spinach had come from the owners’ backyard, we at least could be certain that the goat had not. Chicken, lamb and fish curries are also on the menu.
We closed our evening with pistachio kulfi ($3.99), an Indian ice cream a little closer to what we used to call “ice milk.” As with all of New India Gate’s foods, freshness and flavor-saturation were supreme.
Location: 4939 W. Ray Road in Chandler
Monday to Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
– Kenneth LaFave, East Valley Tribune / Edited for Phoenix.org