UPDATED INDIAN FOOD AT ANARBAGH
When I heard that Anarbagh in Beverly Hills is part of a chain, I thought, oh no, more of the same old stuff–how much chicken tikka masala can anyone eat?
With such a location, flavors would probably be mellowed for people used to five-star dining but not to Indian food. Well, you can slap me with a slice of naan, because I was wrong.
The Beverly Hills Anarbagh does have a standard menu–chicken tandoori, chicken tikka masala, saag paneer and the rest. But It also has an inventive and ambitious young chef (meaning he wants to be on the Food Network).
He is Dalwar (“Dello”) Yahhia, 34, a smiling charmer from Bangladesh who should do well if he gets on a show. And he cooks dishes you won’t find anywhere else. You can’t walk in and ask for them. They’re on tasting menus that have to be ordered in advance. What’s really nice is, the tasting menus aren’t just for large groups but for as few as two people.
All the Anarbaghs have a single owner, but this one is partly owned by Yahhia and Kashruz Zaman, and this leaves Yahhia free to try out new dishes.
His samosas are light and pleasant, with a creamy potato filling. They’re a nice change from the usual starchy, heavy samosas that fill you up so you can’t eat much else.
Lamb chops for his tasting menu get a dash of sugar so they will caramelize. When Yahhia says they’re seasoned with curry powder, he means curry seasonings combined at the restaurant, not yellow powder from a store.
The tart mango salad underneath in the photo above was so delicious it almost outshone the chops. Yahhia cuts paper thin slices from medium-ripe mangoes, then dresses them with lemon juice and olive oil, mixing in cilantro, garlic, carrots and green bell pepper.
He does a masterful job with tandoori salmon. This is not surprising because Bangladeshis are experts with fish. Here he serves the salmon with subtly spicy vegetable biryani.
Short ribs braised with red wine and curry seasonings came on top of yellow mashed potatoes. Yahhia boils the potatoes with curry spices, then mashes them butter and heavy cream. He spoons sautéed mushrooms and onions over the meat, then adds a sunny side up egg.
For what he calls “a meal for a king,” Yahhia boils lamb shanks for hours with Indian seasonings and aromatic vegetables, then whisks the cooking liquid into a sauce that goes on top of the shanks while they steam for another hour. The shanks will be on the new menu that he is working out.
As a change from chicken tikka masala, he suggests butter chicken. The creamy sauce contains pureed cashews as well as butter and is seasoned differently from chicken tikka masala.
The food at Anarbagh Beverly Hills is halal. For kids, Yahhia can make lamb burgers. For adults, there is a small wine list including a Prosecco he chose because he thought it went well with Indian food.
Yahhia’s food is traditional but with a touch of his own, and he says: “I want to be different, not the same as other restaurants.”
Anarbagh Indian Restaurant, 138 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Tel: (310) 888-4011.