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The Artesia restaurant caters to a large Muslim clientele, big family groups powering through sauced mutton feet and grain-enriched lamb stews, the sizzle from a dozen tandoori platters drowning out the droning Bollywood soundtracks. It's probably the only place on the Little India strip that boasts of halal meat, and it draws a mostly Pakistani crowd, eager to get its hands on the highly spiced mutton chops crusted black from the grill, the delicious tandoor-cooked chicken, the creamy, Mogul-style chicken korma. Shan is not a bad place to try the fiery lamb curry called nehari or minced-lamb seekh kebabs. And, of course, there is biryani, a splendid plate of food, a giant heap of rice stained yellow with saffron, a little shiny with grease, sizzling with stinging handfuls of cinnamon, cloves and garlic, and enough cardamom to flavor your breath for days, plumped out with what must be a half-pound of crisped lamb - or vegetables, if you insist. It may not be the delicate dumphukt biryani that is currently fetishized by England's glossiest food magazines, but Shan's biryani is powerfully delicious.
A proper Indian biryani is one of the finest rice dishes of the world, a vast, smoking mound of seasoned basmati rice cooked with meat or vegetables. Pakistani cooks sometimes make great biryanis, superheated and fragrant with spice, although the... More »
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