Incredible spices and fragrances accent Tamba’s exotic dishes
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
It’s all about the aroma. The seductive scents of cardamom, coriander, cloves and cinnamon, teasing your senses with sweet and savory notes, immediately bring to mind an exotic escape. And that’s exactly what you’ll find at Tamba, a tranquil and delicious oasis hiding in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
In the Hawaiian Marketplace on Las Vegas Boulevard at Harmon Avenue (across from CityCenter), Tamba is far from obvious. Use those fantastic fragrances to guide you to this secluded second-level dining room, a dimly lit chamber with plush décor, the colors of India’s signature spices and extraordinarily friendly service. The popular lunch buffet is the perfect time to nosh on pillowy, flavorful naan bread, petite vegetable samosas of crisp golden pastry and other Indian street food favorites like chicken pakora, white meat fried in a light chickpea batter. And later at night, Tamba transforms into a vibrant lounge fueled by edgy sounds, dramatic lighting and, of course, the cool and soothing Tambatini cocktail.
Recognizing respected traditions while adding innovative touches, the cuisine at Tamba is ultimately soulful and satisfying, each dish offering a multitude of tastes and textures. In addition to that addictive naan bread, begin your culinary journey with aloo paratha, moist bread stuffed with spiced potatoes, or the clay oven-baked whole wheat bread known as tandoori roti. Yogurt-and-cucumber mix raita, sliced vegetables with lemon and mango chutney are perfect accoutrement for the Indian bread basket.
The American eater most readily thinks of curry when considering Indian food. Tamba offers a unique selection of seafood curries, starting with jhinga masala, pan-fried shrimp cooked in a bold, slightly sour tamarind masala. You can opt for prawns makhani, a creamy butter sauce reminiscent of scampi, or pepper masala, where the juicyness of plump giant shrimp is complemented by bell peppers and tomatoes in a light curry broth. If you prefer terrestrial proteins in your hearty, lusciously spiced curries, go for the lamb korma, cubes of rich meat cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic and red chilies with a touch of pickled flavors. Chicken coconut curry is a popular pick, too.
Vegetables provide the foundation for the Indian diet, and Tamba’s vegetarian dishes are so packed with deliciousness, they’re sure to satisfy even the devout carnivore. On the simple side, kali dal mixes a medley of spices into long-simmered black lentils, and navratan korma is a veggie variety with nuts, fresh, soft farmer’s cheese and a mild, creamy sauce. Aloo gobi is a fascinating dish: it’s a mystery how so much brazen flavor can come from what is essentially baked cauliflower and potato. And recognizable favorites such as chana masala (garbanzo beans in a tomato-onion curry) and saag paneer (more of that creamy cheese cooked with spinach in a karahi, or Indian wok) are irresistible and perfect as shareable side dishes.
The magnetic Las Vegas Strip is graced with exemplary restaurants of all persuasions, but exceptional Indian food is not easily found here. It’s easy, fun and rewarding to make Tamba your regular escape.
3743 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. daily, dinner 6-10:45 p.m. daily, 702.798.7889