I've eaten my fair share of Indian cuisine over the years - Northern, southern, British-style curry, you name it. But my latest dinner with Jason Perlow at Mausam Indian Cuisine Bar and Banquet in Secaucus taught me that India has more than good food - they've got good beer - damn good beer!
Because Mausam is a bar, as well as a restaurant and a banquet facility, we began our meal with a beverage of the alcoholic persuasion. Being an enthusiast of big beers, I took some advice from the owner of Mausam, and ordered Godfather Super Strong Premium Beer brewed by DeVans. Don't judge this beer by it's color. It may look medium bodied in color, but it packs a full palate!
Jason opted for Old Monk 10000, another Indian beer by Mohan breweries. I found it to be a little light and too hoppy for my liking.
Now, on to the food! Northern Indian cuisine is served in the restaurant at Mausam, while the banquet facility,offers both Northern and Southern Indian fare, in addition to continental cuisine.
While we perused the menu, our server brought traditional crisp papadums, rich with fenugreek accompanied by a dipping duo of bright mint-cilantro sauce and sweet tamarind sauce.
We chose to begin the evening with a live Chaat performance. Why not? The Chaat Bhel Puri, prepared table side, was copious in quantity, spicy, bright, and above all - crispy!
One appetizer is never enough, so we also had the Shrimp Masala appetizer which featured remarkably large shrimp, priced at a reasonable $9.99. The sauce had a nice kick of spice and very subtle undertones of coconut.
Gobi 65, roasted cauliflower buds tossed in tangy Mausam 65 sauce, followed. This dish was particularly nice because it was more "tangy" than sweet, and had a thin, crisp crust; a pleasant change from the typical General Tso-ness of many crispy cauliflower recipes.
Then, the Mausam Melody Biryani - which we had to order simply because it was named Melody. But I'm glad we did, the plentiful Biryani featured basmati rice with mildly spiced shrimp, chicken, lamb, and goat.
I'm yet to find the internal strength to resist Chicken Tikka Masala ("CTM"). At Mausam, the CTM was not as rich as I like it, and missed a certain depth of flavor I've become accustomed to with CTM.
We also ordered a variety of Naan. Some were better than I expected, while others reminded me how good plain, unadulterated Naan truly are. We had chili Naan, which was very good because it provided alot of flavor and not just straight up heat. But, I expected more from the Kashmiri Naan stuffed with cashews and nuts. The healthy oat Naan? Nah.
Got goat? Of course! The Bhuna gosht was a little more "bone-in" then I'd prefer. However, the bhuna sauce - one of my favorite curry sauces - was dark and deep in that meaty way that only bhuna is.
For our vegetarian selection, we opted for Baigan Bharta, fresh roasted eggplant sautéed with ginger, garlic and red onions. I've never been a huge fan of caponata or other variations of mushy eggplant. That said, the flavor profile of the Baigan Bharta, specifically the ginger, convinced me of how good eggplant could be. I could have eaten it with my naan all night! Good stuff!
Through out the course of the evening we also had the opportunity to try a few of the Mausam cocktails. My personal favorite, the fresh cucumber mojito, which provided the perfect cooling tonic to the spicy fare.
After all that food - and beer - we sampled several desserts, among which I would recommend malai kulfi and pista kulfi.
1160 Paterson Plank Road
Secaucus, NJ 07094