Taste 09.05.19

Aabha Indian Grill

When a menu description at an Indian restaurant mentions “spices,” the plural probably runs into double digits.

In the samosas at Aabha Indian Grill, this array of seasoning lends an earthy sensation to a simple potato filling that is steady, yet also rather intricate – like a core sample revealing strata similar in shade that tell different stories. There are darker hues like licorice and embers. There are light, dusty tones akin to toasted nuts. Other spices cast pungent, herbal, smoky shadows. Yet no single aspect stands out from the subtle palette.

Such are the brushstrokes of garam masala – a little coriander, some mace, cumin and cardamom. It’s also a personal thing, one that chefs keep largely secret. A chile heat flickers, but it is contained (though not stifled) by the mellow mass of potato and grassy-sweet pops from whole green peas that also make up the filling.

Keep in mind these are lowly potatoes, wrapped in a flakey crust that echoes some of the mellow nutty flavors – a simple composition and one familiar to cultures around the globe, a humble hand-held savory pastry. What sets it apart is the nimble use of spices taught by veteran Chef Bhupender Singh.

AABHA INDIAN GRILL, 414 Alvarado St., Monterey, 641-7924; 3690 The Barnyard, Carmel, 250-5940. aahbaindian.com

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