Up until a little over a year ago Indian food was not something I had ever truly experienced. It’s not that I was ever opposed to it, I love ethnic cuisines. It just had not happened. A few of my co-workers share my affinity for food and have a laundry list of local restaurants within their repertoire. I started to join in on these occasional excursions to escape our desks every few weeks. Today’s write-up is on one of the regular stops, arguably our favorite, a little Indian restaurant called Cross Culture.
The part of this restaurant experience that always stands out the most to me is the service. On my first visit, I took note that the head waiter knew our group well. He sat us at what was, and still is, “our” table. When it came time to order he already knew the varying dietary requests ( These ranged from no dairy, low salt, low oil, gluten free…etc) and just simply confirmed as the dishes were spewed off that they would like it their regular way. As my visits have increased our waiter continues to impress. He is also knowledgeable with what dishes work well with the nutritional limitations (I personally have none however; I most times share with the group so low sodium and less oil it is!) and is always suggesting new items for us to try.
As for the food, it’s no less superior than the level of service. After having my first Indian cuisine meal at Cross Culture I instantly wondered what had taken me so long to try it. I sometimes think people are weary of the pungent curry scents however; I have yet to encounter a dish that is intensely overwhelming. And if you have an aversion to spicy foods there are plenty of selections that are simple, mild, but still bursting with flavor.
I love the family style feel that Cross Culture provides. Each table is started off with my favorite part of the meal, the Pakoras (vegetable fritters) accompanied with sweet and tangy tamarind dipping sauce. After ordering your main course you will receive Naan (doughy Indian flatbread ), basmatic rice, Daal Makhani (lentils) and a small vegetable salad to share as a table. We also usually order some Papadam (lentil flat breads-for the gluten free lovers I dine with) to replace the Naan. So often we just all order various dishes and share so it becomes a big buffet style meal. I have yet to order dessert at Cross Culture but, I always grab a small handful of Mukhwas or as we like to call it, “Party in my Mouth” upon our departure. It is a colorful after dinner digestive that is often found in Indian restaurants. It typically consists of fennel, anise, and sesame seeds (some being candy coated) along with various essential oils. It is sweet, herbaceous, and just what you need to finish off a satisfying meal.
If you’re not already salivating for Indian food, these favorite dishes at Cross Culture should do the trick. For meat dishes my two picks are the Chicken Saagwala and the Chicken Karahi. The Saagwala portrays itself as a rich, creamy dish but consists of a healthy combination of chicken, sautéed spinach and mild seasoning. The Karahi has a fresh red tomato sauce with a hint of spice from garlic and ginger. If you prefer vegetarian dishes or want an added side, the Baingan Bharta, should be your selection. It’s tender roasted eggplant with peas, tomatoes, and onion.
Although I have yet to go to Cross Culture for dinner or outside of a work setting I will mention that they are a BYOB establishment. This group also owns a handful of sister locations around NJ. Whether you are looking to finally experience Indian cuisine or you are already an Indian food fanatic I think Cross Culture will live up to the expectations.
You can find out more about Cross Culture’s Tandoor way of cooking along with viewing their menu on the website: http://www.crossculturerestaurant.com/
…all for the love of the dish