Tumbi Craft Indian Kitchen opened about three months ago in Santa Monica. I was happy to learn they are related to India’s Oven which is where I had my college graduation dinner so many years ago. Now I feel like I’ve come full circle.
In recent years, it seems many cuisines have gone through a modern phase which I like. Sure, I still enjoy traditional meals but I tend to associate modern with farmers market ingredients. And in the case of Tumbi, this is definitely the case as their chef shops the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market every week.
We started with a few appetizers including the mushroom dosa which was chock full of mushrooms.
I was curious about the fish and chips but we opted to get just the chips or in this case, the idli fries. They are actually made of rice instead of potato Really satisfying crunch.
papadum and chutneys
And what Indian meal is complete without papadum and chutneys? The sauces were really fresh.
heirloom tomato and pineapple salad
Sadly I’ve developed a tropical fruit allergy but I still eat and drink the hell of pineapple. I just have benadryl handy. Luckily I didn’t have a reaction to the grilled pineapple. Good to know!
There are a couple of instagramable dishes at Tumbi including the pani puri. The puff pastries are filled with mung beans, chick peas and shallots. You pour the tamarind mint water into the little pastry and take it all in one bite. I was surprised by how crunchy the pastry was. It was was the perfect little bite at the beginning of our meal.
Afghani seekh kabob
From the tandoor (oven), we had the Afghani seekh kabob. It’s ground lamb and served with some of the aforementioned Santa Monica Farmers’ Market veggies.
bihari smoked kabob
The other must instagram dish is the bihari smoked kabob. Smoked cocktails are so trendy and perhaps this dish takes its cue from that. The kabob came under a cloche filled with smoke. Once lifted, the beef was revealed with veggies. I really liked how tender the beef was.
aloo gobi and Goan prawn masala
Although I got spinach, I always love more veggies so we also got the aloo gobi, my favorite Indian cauliflower dish. The prawn masala was so creamy. I almost regretted we only got one dish of rice for four people. However, we had plenty of naan and that’s a great way to get every last bit of curry.
palek paneer and rice
I’m a huge saag (spinach curry) fan and was intrigued by this palek paneer which was considered a side. It was definitely closer to a creamed spinach (though no cream!) with farmers market cheese.
I almost wrote, “I didn’t grow up eating butter chicken” but it’s true. The Indian food I am familiar with never included butter chicken. It’s only in the last few years that I became familiar with and grew to love butter chicken. Warning: yes, there’s butter! It’s so glorious with rice and naan.
We got both garlic and regular naan. I would have also liked to have tried the other breads but the two orders were enough for our table of four. The garlic naan isn’t as garlic-y as some spots which is good because it doesn’t overpower the food we ordered.
I couldn’t end a grand Indian meal without a cup of chai.
And then we were intrigued by the chocolate filled samosa– chocomossa! I loved that it wasn’t too heavy and it was a beautiful end to a yummy meal.
If you find yourself in Santa Monica, check out Tumbi. It may be your new favorite Indian restaurant.