Sangeet offers tasty authentic Indian fare

Sangeet, an Indian restaurant located on Route 8 in Pittsfield, somehow manages to keep its dignity in the midst of a strip mall of fast food restaurants. This restaurant, which opened around Thanksgiving in the former location of IHOP, has fantastic and genuinely ethnic Indian food. Although a little pricey for the average college student, the food is well worth the money: hot, delicious and speedily served.

My dining experience there was one of the best I have had while at Williams; I would venture to say that it is one of the best Indian restaurants to which I have ever been. The fact that an ethnic restaurant of this quality exists in such close driving distance from Williams is enough to renew my faith in Providence.

My friends and I arrived at 9:30 on a Saturday night, and the restaurant closed at 10:00. We paused to look in the windows and, feeling guilty for the kitchen staff, turned away, only to be welcomed in by the host. The room was large with a high steepled ceiling, covered with wood paneling and decorated with different Indian artifacts.

We were served a basket of crispy flat bread, peppered with herbs and spices, along with a selection of condiments. Condiments, I believe, are the key to any girl’s heart, and these were uniformly excellent. The best of the three was a sweet and sticky wine-colored tamarind sauce; the tomato chutney was also very well spiced and pleasantly crunchy. Munching happily, we waited for the rest of our meal to arrive.

Our appetizers arrived quickly. The Assorted Vegetable Pakoras ($3.95), hot fried breaded vegetables, were delicious and crispy, albeit a bit oily. Of the pakoras, the eggplant and the cauliflower were especially tasty, but the potato pakoras were not as flavorful.

The other appetizer, however, the Sangeet Special Assorted Platter ($6.95), was a winner. Piled high with pakoras, samosas (a mildly spiced large fried dumpling filled with potatos, peas and spices), chic tikka (pieces of marinated barbecued chicken) and sheesh kabob (heavily spiced ground lamb meat), the dish had enough variety to please everyone. Each dish was well cooked; I especially enjoyed the samosas, which were flaky, not oily, and fabulously spiced.

By the time our meal came, we were all pretty full but determined to keep on eating, as is often the case at good restaurants. When the rice came, beautifully speckled with saffron and vermicelli, our mouths watered. As our dishes were placed before us one by one, our eyes widened. True, there was a lot of drama going on for a dinner, but we were quite impressed: not only did the food smell and look delicious, but the bowls were made of hammered copper and very pretty. (I feel that the little extra touch that a restaurant invests in their dishware and silverware should be noted and appreciated.)

The Murg Tikka Masala ($11.95) was excellent. Made of barbecued chicken pieces smothered with onions and tomatoes in a tomato cream sauce, the dish was truly one to be savored. The Baigan Bhurtha ($9.95) was also fabulous. Consisting of mashed barbecued eggplant and minced tomatoes, onions and green peas, the dish had a particularly enjoyable texture and a mix of spices that I had to keep eating to try to figure out.

My favorite dish, though, was the Paneer Mutter ($9.95). The dish had green peas and homemade cheese in a mild curry sauce, and was so tasty that I wanted to cry. Accentuating the excellence of our meal was our Butter Nan ($2.95), which I highly recommend ordering regardless of the main dish selected. Crispy, hot and buttery, the crispy bread could be dipped in any dish.

For dessert, the Rasmalai ($2.95) was great. Made of sweetened cottage cheese immersed in a creamy, milky sauce and garnished with chopped pistachio nuts, it was a cool treat after a hot and spicy meal.

I believe that as Sangeet’s reputation grows, the restaurant will soon be a fixture in the Berkshire community. The food is extraordinary, the restaurant easily accessible and the prices are reasonable. Don’t let this restaurant slip away from us; I encourage you to try it. You will like it.

Sangeet’s is located on Route 8, about 5 minutes from the mall. Open for lunch and dinner (buffet lunch on Saturday) but closed on Mondays.