Tucked away in a basement in prime Harvard Square territory lies Tanjore Regional Indian Cooking (TRIC). In keeping with the trendy tastes of those who tend to dine in the area, the décor is minimalist and modern, including custom track lighting and an excellent paint job. However, the decorations were not free of quirks, as one of the centerpieces was a “Last Supper”-type painting featuring an Indian lady-Jesus figure with conical, Madonna-like enhancements. Any heat generated by intense physical or religious thought was kept in check by the extremely aggressive fans overhead; and while we witnessed nothing, we can only presume that the chain-mail curtain separating the kitchen from the dining area was strategically placed to defend against extreme behavior of every type.
Our culinary experience was a bit rocky at the outset, with hit or miss appetizers:
The samosas ($4) were good, albeit with a strangely uniform filling, like from-the-box mashed potato. But the chai ($2.5) was not free…and not good. The sambar was excellent, and was almost sweet. But the mango lassi ($4), while viscous, was too sweet and not tart enough. Things were a bit extreme on the bread end as well, unfortunately: the peshawari naan ($4) was virtually uncooked; the standard naan ($3.5) was burned; and the papad (not free, $3) was tasty, but not well cooked.
We fared better with the mains, however, which we painstakingly selected from the extensive, nearly NYC-Greek-owned-diner-length menu. The lamb korma was creamy, and the chicken dosa ($10.5) was appropriately soft, with excellent flavor. The chicken Xacuti ($14) was a savory mystery, with notes of coconut, nuts, and perhaps raisins. The eigendish (aloo gobi, a.k.a. gobi char chari, $12.5) had good cookitude and acceptable flavor; the Madras curry ($13) had good cookitude as well, and was even spicy!
Despite the numerous small-scale missteps, we deem TRIC to be worthy of a four-samosa (▲▲▲▲) rating at two-rupee (₨ ₨) rates, surprisingly reasonable considering the location. One need not venture all the way to the city of Tanjore, a cultural center of South India, to sample the region’s culinary delicacies—TRIC brings a just sampling to the heart of Harvard Square.
Name: Tanjore Regional Indian Cooking
Address: 18 Eliot St. in Harvard Square, Cambridge
Our Yelp review