I’ve had enough negative experiences with Lake Mary Indian restaurants that having a mediocre one seems a move in the right direction.
A recent meal at Shaan was no more nor less than that. It manages somehow to take one of the world’s most complicated cuisines, one that is characterized by myriad spices, multilayered and complex, and turn it into an offering so bland that Darden could market it to the masses.
My guest and I started with an appetizer of the mixed pakora, assorted vegetables frittered and fried using chickpea flour and, according to the menu, “cholesterol free oil.” I’d have been willing to take the responsibility of having my cholesterol spike a point or two in exchange for some flavor. We did have fun, though, trying to identify the vegetables under the breading.
My guest selected the lamb xacuti, lamb chunks in a coconut based gravy with potatoes and, the menu alleged, spices. There were chunks of lamb, and there were heft hunks of potato in what was admittedly a nicely textured gravy. But where were the spices?
I went with the aloo gobi, a vegetarian dish that features cauliflower and potatoes. When its done well, you have a dish that is so complex with flavors and textures that even a dedicated meat and potatoes man won’t miss the meat. When it isn’t done well, you have a bowl of vegetables and little more. I ate my vegetables.
Naan was similarly unexciting. Again, nothing was so unacceptable that it couldn’t be eaten, but neither was it representative of what exciting food Indian cuisine can offer.
Interestingly, Shaan’s Facebook page has a link that goes not to a website that it owns but rather one for a Shaan Indian Restaurant in Cincinnati (I have the correct link below). I didn’t realize I wasn’t on the right website at first. In fact, I was sure I’d found the right one when I read this on its home page:
“By toning down the use of chilies, as well as some of the richer ingredients, Shaan Indian Cuisine offers recipes that are gentler, but retain the flavor, aroma and texture for
which Indian Cuisine is rightfully famous.”
Please, Indian restaurants of America — and Lake Mary in particular — stop trying to dumb down your cuisine to appease American palates. Trust me, we can take it.
Shaan Indian Restaurant is at 4405 W. Lake Mary Blvd., Lake Mary. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 407-444-2727.