Specialty oven cooks up signature Indo-Pakistani dishes at Northwest Side restaurant

Gary Seman Jr.
The Columbus Dispatch
Tandoori family platter

Tandoori Oven has been spicing up the Bethel Road dining scene for a decade now, adding to the broad mix of ethnic restaurants along the strip.

Naturally, given its name, the restaurant’s specialty is skewered meats cooked in the high-heat, clay-lined tandoor oven.

Sporting a burnt-orange hue, the quarter-chicken (leg-and-thigh platter, $10; or $5 for the chicken alone), cooked at 600 to 700 degrees, offers crispy skin and succulent meat.

“It keeps its flavor because there’s no direct contact with the fire,” owner Syed Abbas said.

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All platters come with rice, raita (a cooling yogurt-cucumber dip) and a salad.

Tandoori Grill, as with many Indian restaurants, uses charcoal in the oven to add a smoky dimension to the meat.

The chicken, lamb, goat and beef undergo a significant marination process that includes yogurt, turmeric, ginger, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander and dried mango flour — among other seasonings — to keep the meat moist and flavorful.

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“We add some chili sauce, too,” Abbas said. “Everybody puts their own ingredients into it.”

Abbas said his family is of Muslim descent, so beef isn’t off limits at the Indo-Pakistani restaurant. The menu serves beef and the other halal meats, meaning they conform to Islamic dietary laws.

Chicken tikka masala

Tandoori Grill is in a small, unassuming strip-mall storefront next to Apna Bazaar, an Indian grocery store that Abbas also owns, which also sells halal meats.

The beef seekh kebab (12 for a platter, $10 for a single order) uses ground meat, extensively seasoned, rolled into logs and finished in the tandoor oven.

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Chicken tikka masala ($12), among the most popular dishes, uses boneless pieces of dark-meat chicken cooked in the specialty oven, chopped into pieces and then sauteed in tomato sauce rich with cream.

One variation is paneer tikka masala ($10), which uses a tangy cheese in the sauce.

Another vegetarian choice is the palak paneer ($10), cubes of cheeses tossed in an earthy spinach sauce enhanced with tomato and ginger.

Despite having fewer choices than many Indian restaurants, Tandoori Grill has a number of favorites, such as samosas (crunchy pastry dough filled with a potato mixture, $1.25 each); biryani (basmati rice dishes — vegetable ($8), chicken ($10) and goat ($12); and several naans, or breads.

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Abbas said he praises Tandoori Grill's mix of homemade spices, which receive their own distinct translations from Indian towns to American restaurants.

“The spice in that part of the world, it all has a unique flavor to it,” Abbas said. “It all depends on how each chef mixes and matches the spices to get the flavor out of them.”

At a glance

Where: Tandoori Grill

Location: 808 Bethel Road, Northwest Side

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, closed Mondays

Contact: 614-326-3777,