Tandoori Flames showcases Indian cuisine

The new owners of Tandoori Flames in New Milford are infusing authentic Indian flavors and recipes into the cuisine they serve.

“It’s one of our favorite restaurants,” said Ralph Gorman, of Sherman, who recently discovered the eatery after reading about it in the book “221+ Things to Do in and Around Sherman, New Milford and New Fairfield” by John Cilio.

“We ordered three dishes and each one was better than the other,” Gorman said of his first visit there.

Co-owners Vinjith Vikaram and Sagar Ahuja worked together at the 471 Danbury Road (Route 7) restaurant when it first opened last May.

They embraced the opportunity to purchase the business in December, so they can “add to the diversity of the town” and introduce patrons to food from their homeland, Ahuja said.

“We are trying to bring in our culture and express it through our food,” said Ahuja.

The menu showcases a variety of Indian dishes from both northern and southern India, from which Ahuja and Vikaram, who is also the chef, are from, respectively.

Appetizers, entrees and desserts are on the menu, which features a wide variety of vegetarian, vegan, chicken, seafood and lamb dishes. Rices, breads and a variety of sides, including sauces round out the menu.

Ahuja said the restaurant sells its sauces — tikka masala, vindaloo, korma, madras, chettinad and phall — to go, giving patrons an opportunity to use them on their own dishes at home.

Many of the dishes are inspired by or made from recipes belonging to Vikaram’s mother, Amma, who still resides in India.

Aloo Gobi, a classic Indian dish with spiced potatoes and cauliflower; Dal Tadka, a yellow lentils dish tempered with cumin seeds; Saag Paneer, a creamy spinach with homemade paneer cheese dish; chicken curry; and several of the side sauces are among Amma’s recipes.

Spices play an integral role in Indian cuisine. The owners said there is a misconception, though, that all Indian food is spicy.

Vikaram noted he prefers dishes made with milder spices while the majority of his family opts for spicier cuisine.

Ahuja described the southern spices as mustard seeds, curry leaves, whole red chilis and coconut, while northern spices include chick peas and cumin seeds.

Gorman praised the owners for their “accommodating service,” which includes serving dishes based on their preferred spice level.

After a recent first-time visit to the restaurant, Heather Hayden, of New Milford, said she will return.

“It was really good,” she said, noting she appreciates the extensive vegan and vegetarian options.

The restaurant features an Indian lunch buffet Tuesdays through Sundays, which allows customers a chance to sample a variety of cuisine. They can also order off the main menu.

Specialties are available for brunch on the weekends at the restaurant that draws patrons from Litchfield and Fairfield counties, as well as New York.

Several drinks, including a tamarind margarita, Indian spiced mojito and mango martini, are among the featured drinks at the bar.

“We had a really enjoyable lunch,” said Eric Gorman, of Sherman. “We sampled a bunch of dishes…It ranks up there as having really good Indian food. I’ll definitely go back.”

Ahuja said many customers have expressed interest in learning how to make Indian dishes. To that end, the restaurant is exploring the possibility of implementing periodic cooking demonstrations.

“We need to teach people how to make this at home,” Vikaram said. “We can introduce easy dishes that are really good.”

Vikaram has been in the U.S. for six years, while Ahuja has been here for five. They worked together for the past several years at restaurants in the region.

“I fell in love with the town,” Ahuja said of his move from New York to New Milford. “The people are really warm and welcoming.”

“He’s my first ever friend when I came to America,” Ahuja said of Vikaram.

Tandoori Flames, located at 471 Danbury Road in New Milford, is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, call 860-210-0020.