• 30th June 2016 - By Indian Accent Restaurant

    At long last, Manhattan’s curry catastrophe is over. After three grim years, when prized Indian-themed restaurants Tabla, Dévi, the original Tamarind and Jackson Diner all closed, five new places have put the spice back into the city’s most poorly served major cuisine.

    Although restaurants come and go for a million reasons, one thing might explain the arrival over a 12-month period of Indian Accent, Tapestry, Babu Ji, Chaiwali and Soho Tiffin Junction: demand for subcontinent styles beyond red-dyed chicken tikka masala.

    But the new wave confounds expectations high as well as low. The places — all with Indian-born owners, unlike many New York spots owned by restaurateurs from Pakistan and Bangladesh — mostly bypass the “regional” routes of well-regarded older favorites like Tamarind Tribeca, Junoon and Dawat.

    Instead, their chefs indulge highly personal approaches. They regard Indian fare as being as worthy of loving interpretation as modern Italian, Mexican, Japanese and Korean dishes. Spices such as cardamom and fenugreek lend new complexions to Latin and European favorites. Intricate, Michelin star-quality presentations and Indian street food are treated with equal respect.

    They vary wildly in concepts, price and comfort levels. But all pump new energy into a great cuisine long neglected in the global culinary capital of New York.

    Fancy feast: Indian Accent

    Chef Manish Mehrotra’s menu is inspired by his New Delhi spot of the same name, considered one of the world’s best Indian restaurants. Transplanted to a luxurious Midtown setting, it thrills with intricately composed original riffs on familiar-sounding favorites.

    Papadums cost $22 on top of the dinner prix fixe (three-course, $75; four-course, $90; chef’s tasting, $110). But the offering of six different kinds of crackerlike crisps from all over India can feed four, with textures derived from ingredients such as potato and rice.

    Other “musts” include paper roast dosa (below), one of the year’s greatest new dishes. A pyramidal pancake conceals a mash of mushrooms, water chestnuts and tomato masala. Onion chutney and shaved black truffles top it off.

    Sea bass (above) is marinated and cooked in tamarind sauce, its sourness a delightful contrast to a pool of coconut curry. Beef, taboo in most of India, makes a powerful case for itself in pathar kebabs. Sliced tenderloin is ravished in a compelling garam masala marinade that’s a thrilling spice supernova.

    Mehrotra’s pleasures don’t come cheap at dinner, but a newly launched lunch (two courses for $31) offers an affordable introduction. 119 W. 56th St.; 212-842-8070

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