Classic Indian/Italian Cuisine

Until recently when one person in a couple wanted Indian food and the other wanted to grab a sub sandwich, the only solution was divorce. For the past two years, though, Silver Spoon Subs & Grill has been putting marriage counselors out of business. Here at this miniscule Indi-Italian (yes, you read that right) fast-food joint, you got your salami subs, and you got your chicken biryani; for sides you got your kosher dill pickles, and you got your paratha. (What you don't got is your beer, which goes so well with subs and Indian food. But given the drivers on NW 167th Street, the absence of intoxicants probably is just as well.)

Although I've never found a sub sandwich anywhere in South Florida that's the equal of a New England grinder, Silver Spoon's sandwiches beat Blimpie and other chain subs by miles, owing to superior-quality cold cuts. Especially tasty are the cold Italian with Genoa salami, capicola, ham, cheese, and assorted crunchy vegetables; and the hot Super Philly, which supplements the standard steak, onion, and cheese with mushrooms, green peppers, tomato, and lettuce.

Still Silver Spoon's real draw is its Indian fast food, because the Grill in the place's name is a genuine tandoor clay oven. Thought to have originated in ancient Iran (then Persia) to bake bread, still its main use, tandoors had migrated by the early 1800s to Pakistan (then part of India) and, along the way, metamorphosed into all-purpose cookers especially prized for rendering meats moist, tender, and aromatic. Much of the "tandoori" in the United States' Indian restaurants today is in fact faux, sporting the characteristic orange-dyed coating but cooked in regular ovens. Silver Spoon's stuff is the real thing -- and, for an average of $3 to $6 per meal (including chutney, onion and tomato salad, and tandoor-cooked nan bread), a real deal. The tandoori combo is a good intro, featuring three different characteristic kebabs: soft and rather bland seekh (sausage-shaped ground lamb with herbs -- the most popular in India), boti (small pieces of spice-coated boneless meat), and tikka (large, whole boneless legs or breasts of yogurt-marinated chicken). If you're not seeking variety, though, stick to chicken; both the $2.99 tikka and the $9.99 whole tandoori chicken were juicy, tender, and spiced with an addictive chili kick that made one grateful that lassi -- a frothy, healthful, and miraculously cooling iced yogurt drink -- is on the menu.

For those really on the run, various kebabs also are available as wraps. But Silver Spoon's best finger food is pani puri, listed on the blackboard under the heading of "chat" (Indian salad). In this case the salad is chili-spiked chickpeas, potatoes, and diced onion -- but instead of serving it on a plate, Silver Spoon stuffs the salad into individual bite-size hollow poori breads that have been deep-fried to pastry-case crispness. Make sure to instruct servers that you want the oil-free cumin-scented vinaigrette dressing on the side, not applied (to avoid a premature soak), and a few orders of this adorable appetizer make a perfect portable party platter.


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