Cheap Eats / Buffalo Tikka House
Zabihah Halal Bangladeshi cuisine spices up Allentown
Tikka House lamb
Photos by Eric Frick
Buffalo Tikka House
23 Allen Street
Western New York can lay claim to a respectable number of Indian restaurants. And it’s easy to play favorites or get in a rut. Luckily, Buffalo Tikka House offers more than the usual Indian fare—it’s Zabihah Halal Bangladeshi and Indian—and its menu includes options perfect for those well-versed in the cuisine and newcomers alike. Located in the Allentown district, the spartan space is promising; what it may lack in interior design, it makes up for in flavorful food and friendly and generous service. The simple dining room is small, but the restaurant also handles a steady stream of takeout business.
Begin your meal with appetizers to introduce you to the range of flavors. The samosa chaat is a good option for sharing. Samosas are a beloved street food, hearty pastry pockets loaded with vegetable and/or meat fillings. In this case, potatoes, peas, corn, and more are seasoned and stuffed inside the savory dough before frying. To become chaat, the samosas are broken up and topped with a number of sauces, ranging from spicy to sweet and sour. You’ll find a medley of mint-cilantro chutney, tamarind sauce, and cooling yogurt. For a heartier appetizer, try the lamb kabab. Juicy pieces of boneless lamb, marinated in herbs and spices and grilled until tender, are served atop sliced onions.
Chana Masala: Chickpeas are cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce flecked with herbs and spices.
Samosa Chaat: This complex spicy, creamy appetizer is perfect for sharing.
Baked to order in a clay oven over charcoal, tandoori dishes traditionally start in a marinade of yogurt, garlic, ginger, herbs, and spices. The paneer tikka won my heart with its complicated flavor profile and hint of smoke. As with all the tandoori dishes at the restaurant, this cheese entrée is served with both sweet and spicy accompaniments. Don’t try to choose from one of the two sauces offered; rather, enjoy moving from spicy to sweet every couple bites.
Another big winner is channa masala, chickpeas cooked with a special masala, a fragrant tomato sauce flecked with herbs and spices. This dish was passed eagerly from person to person in our group; it won over both my eighteen-month-old daughter and my father’s discerning palate. It was a tossup if the fluffy garlic naan paired better with that dish or the chicken Kashmiri. A totally different flavor profile, the sweet and tangy sauce featured yogurt, coconut, almonds, and pineapples, and it is unlike any restaurant dish I have had before. The sauce is perfect for drizzling over the aromatic rice.
The restaurant offers several biryani specialties worth mentioning. Aromatic basmati rice, flavored with saffron and other spices, is cooked with meat and vegetables. Chicken, lamb, shrimp, and vegetable varieties are offered, and raita (a yogurt sauce with cucumber, mint, and cilantro) is provided for accompaniment.
To end the meal, cardamom-scented rice pudding won us over. Basmati rice in a milky cream sauce, sprinkled with almonds and pistachios, is cooling after all the spice.
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes you won’t find elsewhere in Western New York, and they may have fresh takes on old favorites. While I gladly eat this cuisine any time of year, I especially enjoy it in the cold winter months.