Farm to table is not a new concept, but I bet it’s not what you think of when it comes to Indian food. Right? That’s what you can expect to find at Tava Indian Bistro.
Located in what I’d describe as the Indian plaza of Decatur, AKA, Patel Plaza, is Tava Indian Bistro. Only open for a handful of months, Tava describes itself as having “Indian Street Food,” because the Tava cooking device is often used by street vendors in India. I don’t know that I would go that far as to say it is Indian Street Food, but I would say it is a refreshing change from the Bollywood showing, hindi playing music type of restaurants one must go to if they want quality Indian food.
I was invited to visit Tava by it’s founder, Farhan Momin. Not your average millennial, he goes to nearby Emory University where he is completing his degree in neuroscience. His family owns a butcher shop in the same plaza, where he has spent some time working. Here’s where the “farm to table” concept comes in. Operating for years, he knows he can get quality locally sourced meats for his dishes from just doors away.
“I have been cooking since I was a young child and I began experimenting in the kitchen, combining my indian heritage and my southern roots. I continued this passion into college where I study neuroscience by day and experiment in the kitchen by night.” – Farhan Momin
The decor of Tava Indian Bistro sure is not what you would expect from this Bombay-esque looking plaza. It is modern looking with faux wood walls and an overall minimalist style. Now I’ve got it! Rather than say it’s Indian street food, it’s more of East meets West. Beyond the decor, the Bihari Chicken wings, are covered with Indian spices, but obviously more American than Indian.
A foodie at heart, Farhan has had a passion for cooking for quite some time. He loves watching cooking shows and in fact, he came up with the Chora Chat (pictured above), an appetizer made with fried chickpeas, after being inspired by one of Alton Brown’s shows.
Although there are some special sweet drinks as an alternative to the Mango Lassi, I tried the Pistachio and Saffron Lassi, but the Nimboo Pani, sweet lemonade with a hint of cumin, for just $2 was more of a favorite. Like offal? There’s Lamb brains and Lamb kidney on the menu too.
Again, instead of typical Indian curries served with bread (Naan), you’ll also find sandwiches served with chips here. See what I mean about that Americanized Indian food? Hands down the special of the house, Nihari Sandwich a minced type of lamb was was the best thing we tried. And it’s not just the meat and seasoning. It’s the bread too. Farhan shared that he gets the bread from a special bakery, though he was rather tight-lipped about letting me on where it is sourced.
Other dishes, the Chicken Tikka Masala and Shrimp Katakat (a stir fried dish) were also incredibly well-executed but didn’t reach the same caliber as the Lamb dishes. Besides the lamb sandwich, a Pasanda, slow cooked on the Tava, was another favorite. Marinated in yogurt, it has a slightly bitter, yet pleasing taste.
Prices are so affordable with entrees averaging just about $11. And they are NOT stingy with their bread. At typical Indian restaurants they want to charge a buck per piece of Naan. Here, it was stacked high for just about $3 or $4.
Although relatively new, I think Farhan has winner on his hands with Tava. Surprisingly, the young waitstaff, unlike many of the other Indian restaurants I’ve visited, is super friendly and happily greets guest upon arrival. If you are lucky like me, you will get Kavita as your server. So sweet and hard-working, she is the gulab jamon on top of your delightful meal at Tava Indian Bistro.
Tava Indian Bistro Website
1685 CHURCH ST
DECATUR, GA, 30033