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Best Indian (No Tablecloths) San Francisco 2004 - Shalimar



3325 Walnut

Fremont, CA 94538


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You order at the counter and pick up the food when it's ready. The tables are Formica, and the napkins are paper. You grab a pitcher of water from the refrigerator, and you bus your own dishes. But the food here is so extraordinary and reasonably priced that it surpasses one's needs for amenities. Among our favorite dishes are chicken kofta (meatballs) heady with cumin; a highly spiced, long-cooked lamb stew; creamy chicken tikka masala; a wonderful buttery dish of chickpeas cooked with tamarind and coriander called kabli channa; okra cooked with onions into something like an Indian ratatouille; and the best onion naan ever, stuffed full of onion shreds. The most unusual dish we've tried is haleem, a gluey, seductive paste that tastes like a divine bean dip, sprinkled with shredded fresh ginger. Even the rice is special, mixed with saffron and full of whole spices -- bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, cloves. (Shalimar has two other branches, one at Polk and Pine and one in Fremont, but this one is the best.)

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