Nizam Indian Restaurant
West Los Angeles, CA
Think of India and one of the first things that comes to mind is its diversity. A large country, with population second only to China, its languages are numerous and every state (of which there are 28 and seven Union territories) is unique in its traditions and very importantly, its food. In fact, food from one region may actually be totally alien to a person from another region! The common thread that runs through most Indian food, is the use of numerous spices to create flavor and aroma. However many of the major regions are covered by Mogul cooking of the north; mainly vegetarian preparations in the South; Panirs and dals of the East, (cubes of cottage cheese marinated in mint and fresh green herbs) served with combinations of fresh vegetables. Then there's sweet dishes of the West. Each chef does it his way.
Nizam is one of the forerunners of fine Indian restaurants in Los Angeles, and because of their success, others followed. They have an excellent menu with interesting choices, and a fan‑club of regulars.
I always look forward to their Basmati rice, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas for the past thousand years, and through an aging process the moisture is dried out, producing a nutlike flavor. There are many versions, but my favorite is baked with fruits, nuts and a touch of saffron, other combinations include vegetables, lamb, or chicken. And most of us easily get hooked on their traditional breads made in the clay oven. Before baking, the dough can be stuffed with onions; garlic, chicken, lamb, or my choice of cottage cheese raisins, nuts and herbs. It's indescribable, almost dessert‑like, and marvelous with the dips; even better when eaten with one of the vegetable dishes, especially cauliflower sauteed with potatoes and onions; or diced eggplant and potatoes cooked in a delicate blend of spices and a touch of ginger.
I found many chicken, fish, seafood, and lamb dishes; most much less than $15; with each platter enough for an entire meal. A starving‑artist could afford lunch at this place; it's really a steal at $7.95 for about 20-25 items, buffet style. And there isn't anything over $l0 on the the regular lunch menu.
I especially enjoy the Tandoor oven preparations, where the temperature reaches from 500 to 700 degrees and can cook half a chicken in less than 5‑ minutes. Most Tandoor food is approved by the American Heart Assoc., because the heat burns off all the fat from the chicken, meats and fish skewered over the mesquite coals, that never touch the food.
If you aren't familiar with how to order, combination dinners are featured with 11 to 12 courses that include different groupings of soup, tandoori chicken, lamb, shrimp, rice, vegetables, breads, salad and dessert, ($17.95-$20.00) also one for vegetarians.
After entering the restaurant you will be comfortably seated on cushioned Italian Florentine chairs over maroon carpets, surrounded with mirrored walls and beautiful Indian paintings. The entire glass front is draped as a frame to Pico Blvd. And from the moment of entry the aromas will "getcha" so just walk along the small brass railing that separates the buffet to its own area, and enjoy all-you-can-eat!
When you're ordering other than the buffet, possibly dinner, remember to let the chef know if you wish to have your food mild, medium, or "hot to trot." Also, some people say they don't like curry because they think of it as a particular spice, however, it's a combination of many spices used to embellish flavors, each decided by the chef.
I especially like dishes from the Tandoori, such as Chicken Tikka, (boneless pieces of chicken subtly flavored with spices). Another favorite is Baingan Bharta, a classic Indian vegetarian dish, prepared with eggplants that are baked in the tandoor, then mashed and seasoned with herbs and sauteed onions. Malai Kofta, another favorite is minced vegetable croquettes cooked in a mild sauce.
So experience the ambiance, sounds and tastes of India at Nizam, serving authentic vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine. It's fresh and natural with a unique blend of exotic spices. Zagat rates it "Excellent," and they won the chef's 2000 Gold Medal, recogized nationally .
10871 W. Pico Blvd., L.A; (310) 470-1441. Major credit cards accepted. Dinner Sunday – Thursday 5:00pm-10:00pm; Friday & Saturday until 11:00pm. Lunch from 11:00am to 2:45pm daily. They deliver! Parking in the rear or on the street.