2014-06-18 / Restaurant of the Week

Saffron Indian Cuisine

Saffron specializes in fine Indian cuisine from all regions of the sub-continent. The aromas will lure you off Broadway and into the serene dining room, painted in spice tones that evoke cinnamon, curry and saffron surrounding wood plank floors and warm lighting from woven light fixtures. Soft music fills the air and guests are very warmly welcomed by the friendly staff and owner, Saiful. The incredibly spacious and pleasant outdoor dining patio has even more seating so you can enjoy the wonderful dishes and cocktails here amidst cool breezes and tranquility. A Happy Hour is served each day until 7pm from the petite bar that sits between the front and rear dining rooms, offering a selection of reasonably priced wines ($4) and beers ($3), with stools for chatting indoors, or have your drink out on the patio. Indeed Saffron is on your way home located just steps away from the R and M station at 46th Street in Astoria.

We started with two glasses of cool, crisp Sauvignon blanc but you might want an icy cold Taj Mahal beer before diving into the tantalizing appetizers. Our lovely waitress recommended the shrimp bhuna, sautéed with tomato and mild spices. The crab kofta are golden fritters with sweet crabmeat served with tamarind sauce and chick peas (($6.95). Aloo tikka are tender patties of spiced potatoes and lentils served with yogurt sauce ($3.95). Traditional appetizers include flaky vegetable samosas, vegetable fritters called pakora and very tasty tandoori chicken wings marinated in spices and yogurt, then cooked in the tandoor clay oven, served with house chutney. Non meat appetizers include lahsooni gobi, or florets of cauliflower with chili flakes and garlic tomato chutney.

Entrées include chicken, seafood, meat, vegetarian and rice dishes so there is something for everyone. While Indian food is always flavorful, it isn’t all “hot” so ask your kind waitperson if you have any questions. All dishes can be adjusted to your liking. From the tandoor clay oven, the expert chef makes succulent tandoori chicken, minced lamb seek kebabs, cubes of marinated lamb called boti kebab, and the Saffon mixed grill which offers a sampling of many tandoori specialties, served with French fries.

Chicken specialties cost $10.95 and you’ll find all your favorites, such as chicken tikka masala with its rich tomato-based sauce. Hara Maas is tender chicken simmered in fresh ginger, chili and cilantro. Chicken shahi korma is roasted and served in mild cashew sauce. Chicken saag is cooked with spinach, spices, onion and tomato. If you like it hot, as I do, then the chicken vindaloo is for you, marinated in vinegar and fiery spices. You can also order vindaloo made with tender lamb or goat. Rice and Biryani dishes are all mild and flavorful, combining chicken, lamb, goat or vegetables with basmati rice and a variety of herbs and seasonings. I really enjoyed my lamb biryani and asked for medium heat which was just perfect. The combination of tender, succulent lamb and fluffy rice and spices made the perfect dish, and there was a nice lunch for the next day as well.

For those seeking meatless options, Saffron has nearly two dozen items so you can make this your “go to” place. These vegetarian dishes cost just $9.95 and include basmati rice. Channa saag is one of my favorite dishes of stewed chick peas with spinach and mild spices. Dal makhani is a blend of black lentils and kidney beans slow cooked with mild herbs, perfect for spooning over fluffy basmati rice. Aloo mutter gobi is a delicious dish of cauliflower, potatoes, fresh ginger, onions, green peas and spices while the eggplant masala is simmered with sesame and coconut sauce.

In Indian cuisine, bread is ordered separately and Saffron Indian Cuisine makes delicious breads, hot from the oven. Naan bread is cooked with the tandoor and can be ordered plain, with onions, garlic, cheese, or stuffed with ground lamb and spices.

Cool off with a dessert of sweet kheer rice pudding, galub jamun, made with homemade cheese and sweetened milk, or cool, creamy mango ice cream. Saffron Indian cuisine offers a prix fixe dinner for just $14.95 that includes one appetizer, one entrée with basmati rice and naan bread, and a dessert. For lunch, the $9 lunch special can’t be beat and the service at Saffron is fast and friendly. Take out orders fly out the door and the phone rings non-stop for this delicious Indian cuisine in Astoria.

Visit Saffron now while you can enjoy the lovely outdoor patio, Happy Hour specials until 7pm, and fabulous Indian regional dishes in a comfortable setting with excellent service.

44-04 Broadway, Astoria


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