When it comes to Indian food in Birmingham, we have long been fans of Silver Coin Restaurant. (There are some other good options too, but this one has always risen to the top of our list.) So we were delighted to learn that the Hoover restaurant was opening a concept in Pizitz Food Hall.
Called Silver Kati, it brings some of the same flavors we love from Silver Coin, albeit in a food stall-sized version. We tried it out today on their first day of business.
Nestled between Ghion Cultural Hall and Revelator, Silver Kati is the fourth restaurant by Kishore Kotian. The first two Silver Coin Restaurants are located in India and the third off Lorna Road in Hoover (our review here). Kishore says that he has taken all that he’s learned in 12 years of operating an Indian restaurant in America and translated some of the most popular dishes into those served at Silver Kati.
“The concept is fast casual, like the street food that you would eat in India,” Kishore says.
The menu is straightforward. Diners first pick from one of three bases: kati roll, which is a flat bred with onion and cilantro served with rice or raita); rice bowl or “pulao,” white rice with peaces and carrot served with raita and kachumber (a mix of cucumber, onions and tomato), or a salad bowl with mixed greens and raita and cucumber.
Next comes a choice of chicken marinated with yogurt, lime juice and spices; fish marinated with lime juice and spices, or tofu marinated with tandoori masala.
Finally, there’s a choice of two sauces: Tikka Masala (tomato cream sauce) or palak/spinach, spinach puree served with spices. (Note: dishes are served with mild sauces, which can be made spicier at the diner’s request.)
We went with the Kati Roll with Tikka Masala and chicken.
We were not disappointed. The Tikka Masala sauce was rich, with the taste of cashews. It’s the cashews and the chef’s secret spices that set it apart, Kishore says. “Cashews are expensive to buy, $6 or $7 a pound,” he says. “Some places cut corners and substitute sunflower seeds thinking people won’t know the difference. But once you taste our sauce you’ll know.” He says that the sauce has been a top seller at Silver Coin since they opened, and many customers come back for the dish again and again, despite Silver Coin’s menu. So it had to be one of the offerings at Silver Kati.
We’re glad it is. The roll is a more portable version of the dish, and the raita compliments the tomato’s tanginess.
Kishore says that their Tikka Masala is a popular dish for people who are new to Indian food. “When people are new to eating Indian, they think it’s all curry, and it’s not,” he says. “We say start with the tikka and you will be hooked.”
Also on the menu: samosa, a homemade pastry stuffed with spicy peas ad potato filling, served with chutney, tamarind and mint sauces.
Silver Kati also offers mango lassi and three kinds of Indian Cola. Kishore says he’s glad to bring Silver Coin classics downtown and with a twist.
“When I first signed a lease on Silver Coin, I had a friend who said I should cancel the lease if I could, and that Indian food in a space that large would never work in the South,” he says. We’re glad he kept the lease, at that Silver Kati is in the mix at Pizitz.