A self-proclaimed foodie, there is nothing I enjoy more than two cultural dishes merging together to create an epic food fusion.
In my opinion, when it comes to flavor, Indian cuisine tops the charts with its variety of sauces and spices, from the well-known curry, tikka masala and tandoori, to the exotic and delicious bhuna, korma and jalfrezi. But unless you know how to prepare Indian entrées at home (if you do, teach me!) you often have to dish out a hefty amount to get the best-quality cuisine locally.
On the flip side, there is every foodie’s favorite budget-friendly Italian-American supper: pizza! When in doubt about what to do for dinner, pizza is always a go-to option. I can’t even begin to count the number of times someone in my own family has said “well, let’s just get a pizza tonight” or something to that effect.
The idea of fusing fancy Indian dishes with everyone’s favorite carb makes sense—I mean, most Indian restaurants have a tandoori oven, which is similar to a pizza oven, to cook their Naan—but it’s one I never would have thought of. Kudos to the geniuses who married the two and brought the concept to Fresno.
I’m delighted to say there are two joints in town where Fresnans can indulge in Indian-style pizzas: Chicago’s Pizza with a Twist, which Natali wrote about last week, and The Curry Pizza Company, which I had the pleasure of trying during its grand opening week at the end of August.
You could say the idea of Indian pizza really peaked my curryosity and I was anxious to taste a couple of the most popular specialty pizzas on the menu.
It’s always the same thought at first: It sounds too good to be true. And all too often it is, so I expected the eatery would master one or the other (i.e. great Indian food on a so-so crust, or a solid pizza with not as much Indian influence as I would like). Surprisingly, though, The Curry Pizza Company delivered on both fronts.
Upon entering the Curry Pizza Company, I was overcome by that all-too-familiar scent of curry and other strong Indian spices and I immediately thought that this was indeed an authentic Indian restaurant. At that point, my expectations rose.
My party started with two appetizers: an order of tandoori wings and some cheesy breadsticks.
The breadsticks were as one would expect from any high-quality pizza place, though these seemed extra buttery, so I assume clarified butter was used. I only ate a small bite of the breadsticks, leaving those for my nieces and nephews who have yet to develop taste buds that can handle spicy Indian dishes.
The wings I could hardly put down. I’m a huge fan of buffalo wings, but I think the tandoori marinade definitely has the buffalo sauce beat. For a first-timer, the wings may be on the spicy side, but because I’m used to Indian spices, I felt the wings were rather mild.
I really didn’t know how the pizza could possibly be better than the wings, but of course, then we got our two medium pizzas.
The first, milder pizza was the butter chicken pizza—a pie topped with a delectable butter chicken sauce, cheese, diced tomatoes, red onions, butter chicken and fresh cilantro. You can probably tell by its name that it was buttery. Paula Dean would be proud. It was also loaded with chicken and cheese. Even one of my nephews was adventurous enough to try it, though he basically just picked off the pieces of chicken to eat alone because kids don’t like veggies on their pizza, I guess. It’s safe to say this pizza was the family favorite.
The other pizza we tried was the tandoori chicken pizza. The toppings on it mirrored those on the butter chicken pizza, but the sauce was its own white sauce and the tandoori chicken was much spicier and stuck with you.
For those who aren’t familiar with Indian heat, it’s a bit delayed and hits you in the back of the throat; rarely is it on the tip of your tongue like a spicy habanero or jalapeño flavor. It does cause your lips to tingle a bit, though. To me, it’s a more pleasant, flavor-filled heat versus being spicy for the sake of being spicy.
Indian food, for the most part, is about balance—there are spicy ingredients, but there is also a lot of cheese (paneer), clarified butter, and yogurt-based sauces used in combination with the spices to keep them from being overpowering. Of course, newbies will still certainly find the tandoori chicken pizza overwhelming. To my taste, it was medium.
Overall, I was extremely satisfied with how The Curry Pizza Company molded two of my favorite food groups together and I would highly recommend going and checking it out!
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