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Getting a Spice Fix at Sitar Indian Restaurant

By S. Mathur

Visitors and residents alike come to Sitar in New Haven, enticed by the aromatic spices and hearty naan. The restaurant is a family business - which could only be described as a labor of love. Manager Harinder Singh explains that his father, Inderjit Singh, opened the restaurant in 2005 "with an idea of bringing Indian cuisine to the growing New Haven market."

The family already had lived the majority of their lives in the New Haven, so they already had a connection to the city. "It was an easy decision," says Singh. Furthermore, head chef and owner Inderjit Singh "has over 30 years of cooking experience and it was his life's dream to open his own restaurant," explains his son.

And the name? It comes from the sitar, a plucked string instrument used in Indian classical music. You might even hear it being played as you dine. The ambiance is welcoming, with the emphasis on the food and good company.

Sitar specializes in North Indian cuisine and the menu carries all the perennial favorites, including barbecued food from the tandoor. Singh favors the chicken dishes: "In my opinion the best dish on the menu is the chicken korma and the chicken tikka masala - everyone's favorite. The most ordered dish on the menu is the chicken tikka masala, and the lamb curry. They make really good tandoori items as well. The chicken tikka cooked in tandoor is really good too, they make their own rub for the tandoori items." As in all Indian restaurants, there is a wide range of delicious choices for vegetarians as well.

The menu choices offer something for everyone, from novices trying Indian food for the first time to homesick Indian professionals and academics from the surrounding communities. It is also a student favorite, without the noise associated with student hangouts. Sitar offers catering and home delivery, the latter being a great option for a cold winter evening when some spicy food is welcome but it's too cold to go out.

"I think the community has embraced Sitar," says Singh. "People love the food and it has been a really good destination for a quick lunch and to chat with coworkers during lunch time, and a place to bring family for dinner and enjoy the food. New Haven is great because the history of the family, having built a relationship with the city - there wouldn't be a better place to open."

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