Tuesday marked the first day of the Indian Diwali Festival. This is the Indian version of New Years and is also called the Festival of Light, with the five-day celebration centered around the Diwali Feast. Tamarind of London, the upscale Indian restaurant in Newport Beach has extended the cheer even more though, creating a two week long Diwali Feast menu especially for the holiday. In India, this is one of the most important holidays of the year. The basic premise is to celebrate the victory of light over darkness. Houses are cleaned, even painted, new clothes purchased and the homes are decorated. Preparations are made for the Diwali Feast, a veritable orgy of Indian foods. The Hindu population gets ready to enjoy all the delicious foods that they may not have during the rest of the year.
Running for the next two weeks, it will be much easier to celebrate at Tamarind of London. Chef Ali has created a primarily traditional feast, although in Tamarind of London style, there are a few dishes that are definitely elevated as compared to most other places. A good way to start is with a nice cocktail. Gin is the spirit that is synonymous with India and Tamarind’s bartender has created the Tower of London Martini. It consists of Pinnacle Gin, shaken with St. Germain, freshly muddled cucumber, fresh basil, served up with a cucumber garnish in a martini glass.
The menu for the Diwali Feast includes several combinations of foods to accommodate everyone. A full vegetarian fest is easily made with the dishes in the feast. A good First Course plate is the kebab platter, a trio of swordfish, ground lamb and chicken kebabs cooked perfectly in the tandoori oven. Pickled onions and house-made pomegranate and mint chutneys finish the plate.
For the main course, there are several dishes, all of them excellent. Butter Chicken is cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. For meat lovers, Tamarind’s Classic Rogan Josh is one of the best versions of this classic Indian Lamb Curry around. Spicy, but not too much and with a curry and chilli sauce that is absolutely delicious, it is truly a memorable dish. Achari Baingan is a holiday tradition with nine vegetables, perfect for the vegetarian palate. Another amazing dish is the Korma, made with seasonal vegetables, paneer cheese and pomegranate seeds in a rich caramelized curry. The highlights are many—-the firm chewiness of the warm cheese, the kick of the spices and the delicious pomegranate seeds, cool and refreshing.
On the side with any of the main dishes comes saffron rice, dal, a dish of red lentils, and fresh, hot-baked naan. Bread to dip up all the sauces and chutneys. Finally, desserts are available, made by Tamarind of London’s talented pastry chef. Several treats are on the menu, to be accompanied by Tamarind’s signature fresh mint leaf dipped in chocolate. The whole Diwali Feast, was generously provided to me as a complimentary chance to taste what the real Diwali Feast is like.
For those who know good Indian food, either as a fan or as part of the culture, Tamarind of London’s Diwali Feast will show that there is great food in Orange County. And for the person who has only been exposed to the Indian lunch and dinner buffets of varying quality, celebrating Diwali with Tamarind of London’s Feast will certainly show that there is w whole different level to Indian Food. Enjoy the holiday and make sure to enjoy it with the Diwali Feast at Tamarind of London!
Diwali Feast at the Tamarind of London. 7862 E. Pacific Coast Highway Newport Beach, CA PH: 949-715-8338