In the Norwood neighborhood of the Bronx, there is a relatively new restaurant called Sodesh that says it serves Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani food. Whatever style the food is that they serve, it's absolutely delicious. I'll go with Bangladeshi, since their versions of familiar dishes are stylistically unique in my experience.
Perhaps the term "restaurant" is overstating things just a tad... it was clearly one of those Chinese take-out counters that populate the less-gentrified neighborhoods of New York until quite recently, and has about 5 tables. No matter - the food is stellar.
We started with an assortment of kababs as appetizers:
There is the usual tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, and a seekh-style minced chicken kabab. But the winner was the one at the bottom of the frame, which I think is called chicken tirka (didn't get the name – but one can always just point!). Delicately flavored and moist – it was fabulous.
They serve the most subtly delicious chapli kabab I have ever tried (minced chicken with egg, diced tomato, green pepper, and spices):
Preceding the arrival of the entrées was a plate of rice for each person. I don’t know what is in it, but it is the most beautifully perfumed rice I think I have ever been served anywhere. It complemented particularly well the popular winner of the evening, butter chicken:
Every time I have ordered butter chicken elsewhere, what generally comes out is some sort of variation of chicken tikka masala. Not here. The menu says "boneless chicken, butter, ginger, tomato purée, yogurt, cream, lemon juice & all spices." The tomato purée was surprising to read, because I could not identify any tomato flavor at all. This is not a bad thing. All those ingredients are in perfect balance with one another to create a creamy chicken dish that is both light and rich at the same time. It's simply stupendous, and the caramelized onions that garnish almost all the dishes here are a delightful addition.
A seemingly close cousin of the butter chicken, chicken kurma, is, in the end, quite different in overall effect. The sauce is creamy in texture, but its base is ghee, coconut milk, and puréed nuts, which throws the aromatic qualities of the ginger and spices into sharper relief. Depending on ones tastes, this dish is as good or better than the butter chicken.
(And there's that beautiful rice in the background.)
On the menu is a northern take on the south Indian (Goan, actually) dish, vindaloo. I’d never seen beef vindaloo on offer before, so I had to order it (when, oh when is the original PORK vindaloo going to come to NYC?). It was spicy, but not overly so, and pleasantly vinegary, with the de rigueur potatoes. A nice, warming dish.
Goat biryani was aromatic and everything it should be, and the chunks of goat were actually tender
Their saag paneer is the tastiest, most interesting version of this dish I've ever tried. The spinach was perfectly cooked, and the texture of the homemade cheese was just right – it so often gets dry and grainy – and the fresh flavor, even better. The menu doesn’t mention tomato in this dish, and it's the one dish where I thought I could taste it. In any event, the flavor had a lot of dimensions to it – not something I normally associate with saag paneer!
Marvelously inexpensive - the only dishes over ten dollars are the shrimp dishes (and the goat biryani).
3111 Bainbridge Ave., Bronx 10467
(D train to 205th St., follow the signs for Bainbridge Ave., then half a block down the hill)