Lala Sahab is warmly lit, with comfy leather seating and nostalgic black and white photos of Indian freedom fighters lining the walls.
My husband and I had planned on eating heartily so I decided to build my meal around the entree. I was feeling adventurous and decided, “Why not go for the goat?” So, I built my entire meal (and my husband’s, as I was going to taste everything he ordered as well) around the Bhuna Gosht. With a little guidance from our server, we were quickly set up for, what we would soon realize, was a jumbo meal.
Things at Lala Sahab are cooked slowly and with care. That comes through in the flavor of the dishes. So, while we waited, we sipped on our Kingfisher Drafts and munched on Papadams we dipped in a Mint and Cilantro Sauce and a sweet and smoky Tamarind Sauce.
Lamb was the choice of appetizer in the form of the Keema Pav, a minced lamb sautee with onions and garam masala. It comes on a plate in trio with a deliciously cool mint and cilantro sauce and slider sized toasted, buttered rolls. The lamb was full of flavor and the buttered roll just added to the decadence of the rich dish and the heat in the lamb is quietly tamed by the mint sauce. This small-plate dish is perfect for two.
Then the feast began. First they brought out the Bhuna Gosht. This is goat cooked in a thick shallot and tomato sauce. There’s tons of flavor and a nice heat to the dish and it is served with light and fluffy rice. I highly recommend this dish, especially if you like to sop up the sauce with their warm and chewy Naan. We also tasted the Uncle Manoj Shrimp Curry which was more mild and in a creamy coconut sauce. There was plenty to share here. The two dishes together could easily serve 3 or 4 people, so if you are looking for a shared meal, they are a perfect choice.
Next came out the Peshwari Naan. This is just like regular naan with the exception of being stuffed with a thin layer of nuts and dried fruit. They add a bit of sweetness to the bread, highlighting, and possibly cooling off a bit, any of the dishes you are eating with it.
We also wanted to try the Chef Tasting Chutneys. By this point our table was full and they had to bring over a stool on which to set the rest of our meal. With two chutneys and a selection of pickles and even more naan, we were good to go for a feast. I should have brought more friends along. The Mango Chutney was sweet and delectable and gooey. We were spooning this on to our bread in between tasting spicier fare to give our tongues a break. The Onion Chutney packed more of a bite, being sweet and sour at the same time. The Pickle Mix was hiding some incredibly spicy longhorn peppers in it and they are not for the faint palate. Spicy and salty and sour, this selection really packs a punch.
At the end of the meal, we were treated to a reprieve from the wonderful spicy adventure we had just experienced with Rasmalai. This stuff was delicious! They are cheese dumplings, sweetened in milk and rose water. The dry texture of the cheese held on to the milk perfectly and provided a comforting ending to our meal.
Following it all, we were provided with a little tour of the space, and allowed to check out the photos on the wall. Freedom Fighters, in black and white, pictured everywhere in the restaurant. They instilled a sense of pride in the space that rings true through the food, which was prepared with such caring. It was an honor to be eating such wonderful food.
Lala Sahab just opened a week ago, and I wish them all the luck in their endeavor. I highly recommend this gem. Lala Sahab is located at 489 Columbus Avenue between 83rd and 84th. 212-875-1400. Hours of operation: Monday–Friday 5 p.m.–11 p.m., brunch Saturday and Sunday Noon-4 p.m. and dinner 5 p.m.–11 p.m. Make your reservations and get into this soon to be hot spot.