Tandoor's Indian Buffet

The day before our wedding, M and I got our friends and family together for an informal rehearsal picnic that ended in a game of Wiffle ball – girls against boys. We all feasted on the mountains of food we’d brought from Tandoor, a tiny Indian restaurant in a Mission Valley strip mall that was, and is still today, one of M’s favorite eateries.

If I weren’t so familiar with the place, I’d find the atmosphere inside rather sad. Aside from the bright yellow wall and the cloth flowers on the table, they haven’t done much to make it cozy. But, on a sunny day or a warm evening, the outdoor tables, shared with three or four other eateries, do help.

The inside is of no concern to M, who loves the food more than he cares about atmosphere. I, on the other hand, will occasionally turn down food I love in favor of a more pleasing atmosphere. Not always, though.

Every month or so, we return to Tandoor to stuff ourselves at their buffet (Saturdays, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Sundays 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Although the yogurt, salad, chutneys, samosas, and rice stay the same, the main dishes change some.

This past week, the buffet featured Dal (lentils), Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese), Tandoor chicken, Navrattan Korma (vegetables in a creamy sauce), Gajjar Matar (carrots with peas), and Makhani chicken. The dessert was Kheer, a sweet, soupy rice dish.

To be honest, as much as I’d love to say we do, M and I never call the dishes by their names. We’re more likely to refer to them by color. This time, in the throes of passion with his buffet plate, M actually said, “I don’t know what this orange stuff is, but it has to be one of the greatest substances known to man.”

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