BITE OF THE MOMENT: Imli Urban Indian Cuisine

[all photos by Conor Rose]

Since opening this past June, Imli has certainly made an entrance as one of the newest kids on the Upper East Side – sleek and cosmopolitan in design, the menu fuses Indian and Western culture seamlessly, adding another facet of culture to the always bustling New York City Indian restaurant scene.

Popular for their extensive tapas menu, we opted for the staff’s recommendations and tried their Cauliflower Tikki – so tender and just slightly spicy, enveloped in a crispy exterior, and reminiscent of crabcakes. Another dish, the Kerala Beef, consisted of tender bite-size chunks of meat marinated in yogurt, black pepper, onions, cardamom and curry leaves, an incredibly flavorful and unique plate unusual for North Indian restaurants, which typically outlaw the use of cow.

Cocktails are carefully crafted with touches of Indian spices, with the best example being the Imli-Rita, a sweet and savory cocktail containing tamarind, Avion Tequila, Grand Marnier, lime and cane syrup, with a taste bordering between a margarita and a Bloody Mary. The Mango Mirchi was refreshing for the hot and sticky late summer evening, concocted with Tito’s Vodka, lime, and mango, topped with a chili to add an extra punch.

There are a few Indian dishes you’ll see on every Indian restaurant menu in America, with Saag Paneer and Lamb Rogan Josh being two of them, so we decided to try Imli’s interpretation of both dishes. The paneer was a generous size both in portion and in actual cube size, doused in a thick and creamy spinach sauce that I would put on literally anything. The Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh, made up of tender boneless lamb marinated in a blend of over 15 spices, achieves an incredibly aromatic, complex, difficult-to-pin-down flavor that had us wolfing down as much as we could handle. To finish, a creme brulee topped with a tiny gulab jamun added a sweet little extra Indian touch to the typically French dessert.

The hype is just beginning for this spot – if you’re an Indian food fan, looking to tiptoe into the cuisine, or just want a really good cocktail, stop by Imli and try it out for yourself.

For more photos from Imli, click here. This meal was provided by Imli, however all opinions are our own.