Neelam is a restaurant specializing in North Indian cuisine located within the village of South Orange.
For those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine, it features chicken, lamb, rice, vegetable and curry based dishes served with a variety of spices and herbal seasonings. Neelam’s extensive menu covers all of these staples and also includes some recipes specific to North India and Pakistan.
Located next to the Subway restaurant on South Orange Avenue, Neelam offers an exciting option for individuals looking for something different to dine on, or even for the comfort of home cooking, such as junior Madhu Nair. “Neelam is fantastic: the food is authentic and it reminds me of home cooking,” he said.
Neelam currently offers a daily lunch buffet between the hours of noon and 2:30 p.m., along with a traditional dining experience from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day. The dinner menu contains entrees ranging from $8.95, Dal Makhni, a fried vegetarian dish, to $17.95, Shrimp Tandoori, a fresh shelled shrimp charbroiled within the Tandoor, which is a type of clay oven central not only to Indian Cuisine, but also to Turkic cuisine.
Although many of the foods are cooked in the tandoor, those cooked specially within it are signified as such.
The lunch buffet is $8.95 on the weekdays and $9.95 on the weekends, featuring a number of selections from the dinner menu, such as Saag Aloo, a spinach and potato dish, and Chicken Tikka Masala, a cream based chicken curry.
The lunch buffet offers a great variety of foods, all for an extremely reasonable price. It features my personal favorites like Naan, a wedge shaped bread, Pakora, a fried onion and chive mix, and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Naan especially serves as a nice complement to the various curry based dishes, as it is typically eaten dipped in a curry sauce. Although the Tikka Masala set out during the lunch buffet is not too spicy, if one is feeling adventurous, adding the hot chili paste will quickly solve that issue.
The décor within Neelam also sets a very warm and rustic atmosphere, featuring an assortment of elaborate Indian pottery, figurines and dishware. This warm atmosphere is emphasized by the autumnal maroon and orange hues of the restaurant and the traditional Indian music.
One does not need to be familiar with Indian cuisine to enjoy that offered by Neelam and the lunch buffet serves as a good crash course in traditional Indian dining.
Ed Millar can be reached at email@example.com.