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A lighter more modern approach to Indian fare…

The French doors were open onto the sidewalk and the lovely little tables outside just seemed so refreshing. The sign on the door also referred to it as a wine bar.

The colors of Orissa are fun, a mix of soft yet deep tones, and can put a smile on your face. They are relaxing. Our server left table choice up to us, so we sat just inside at the edge to feel the breeze. 

Sparkling water or “New York’s Finest Tap” was offered immediately. The menus are weighty. One is dining, the other is strictly wine and beer selections. King Fisher, an Indian favorite brew, is on the menu and I was thinking perfect for spicy food. However, looking at the food menu, it seemed that a very light red or a white wine would be in order. I was thinking that a lighter red would be enjoyable so I questioned the intensity of the 2007 French Carmenere. Our server immediately said he’d be back to give us a taste to determine for ourselves. Well done.

The bottle could have been at a better temperature, so our server upon request, gave the bottle a light and short icy bath, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. A good pairing for what was to come. Wine selections are diverse and nicely priced. Many of the wines are also available by the glass.

Perusing the menu, it is clear that the food is Indian/Goan inspired cuisine, not traditional Indian food as most of us know it. The menu was crafted by Hari Nayak who is a CIA graduate and has worked in India and North America. He provides consulting talents. Parents will be pleased to know that there is a very interesting and concise children’s menu consisting of offerings such as naan pizza, grilled kabobs, and a bison burger. The owners are local Dobbs Ferry residents, Niall Cain and Cynthia Caracta. He is an architect by trade and she is a pharmaceutical researcher. They opened the doors, located at 14 Cedar Street, earlier this year.

We began the meal with a most amazing “side dish” which we used as an appetizer. The portion was quite generous, too.  The menu refers to this as Bhindi Amchoor. Thinly sliced cuts of okra which had been fried and dusted with a dry mango powder. In the mix, were sweet/vinegary slices of tomato and onion. Finely chopped stems of cilantro and leaves were integrated throughout. The okra, which can often be slimy in texture, were nicely crisp and the combination was delicious and very refreshing. In addition to the okra concoction were slices of garlic naan and a ramekin containing a cooked down roasted tomato chutney peppered with little seeds of spice.

For a main course, we ordered paella for two. My dining partner was surprised to see that it arrived not having the traditional yellow saffron look. The rice clearly was cooked in a stock contributing to a greater flavor profile. Lightly mixed with softly cooked down onions, green and red bell peppers, were the other components: rings of squid, small pieces of chicken (dark meat, again adding a greater depth of flavor), very tender shrimp, and the entire plate surrounded by succulent mussels. The paella, although with everything so tender and delicious seemed to lack one element, and the thought was fresh lime wedges for squeezing. It just had those light flavorful coastal elements begging for a light spray of citrus.

To accompany this and to use as a more “hands on” eating utensil, we ordered a basket of the mint naan. Mint becomes timid when cooked and its presence here was pleasantly noticeable. They have worked their magic to keep the fresh minty flavor alive while the naan hits the high temperatures of the tandoor.

Chef sent to the table, not knowing that we were tasting our way through the menu, an amuse bouche of braised lamb which was so delicate and lightly covered in an infused sauce of traditional Indian spices… fantastic.

At the end, we cooled our palates with an interesting and well-made coconut flan. It was topped with a dollop of freshly whipped creme fraiche and a slice of strawberry. Drizzled around the dish were whisps of strawberry coulis.

Orissa will be repeated many times as there is so much to taste. Vindaloo, watch out!


14 Cedar Street

Dobbs Ferry, New York

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