Tavassum Rahmen, whose Indian takeout shop run out of a convenience store on Ten Ten Road in Apex had earned a growing following, has taken the next step with the opening of her first full-fledged restaurant. Cilantro Indian Cafe, which she opened recently in MacGregor Village with her husband, Mustafa, specializes in the food of her native northern India.
But Rahmen also has a few surprises in store. She has lived most of her life in the States (first New York, and for the last 18 years, the Triangle), and her travels are reflected in a menu that she describes as “homestyle food with a little twist.”
It doesn’t get much more homestyle than Ammi’s chicken ka salan (“Ammi” means “Mom”), a traditional curry that features bone-in chicken marinated spices and cooked with bay leaves and onions.
At the other end of the spectrum are a handful of more exotic surprises sprinkled among the usual korma, tandoori and biryani suspects. Moroccan hummus, for one, is a dish that earns its place on the menu by virtue of being “similar to chana masala.”
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The menu’s most notable twist, however, takes the form of a selection of “pita naan” wraps and sandwiches. Made with a distinctive naan called roghni (sometimes called rogani) naan, whose texture is indeed somewhere between that of pita and the more familiar tandoori naan, sandwich options range from chicken tikka pita pocket to fish tandoori wrap. The list also includes a vegetarian wrap, as well as a wrap featuring lamb which - like all meats at Cilantro - is halal.
Greg Cox, the N&O’s longtime restaurant critic, reports restaurant news. Tune in at 11 a.m. Saturdays for his radio show on WPTF. Reach him at email@example.com.