Friday I awoke to the pitter patter of more rain.  Trying to remain the optimist I claimed to be yesterday, I thought “Here’s an excellent opportunity to have more comfort food, which I love.”  Ok, optimistic-self, will do.

On cold days I crave saucy, braised meat; the words “sauce” and “slow-braise” might as well be cross-stitched on my pillow I love them so, so much.  I remembered a few readers suggesting an Indian restaurant at Cambie and Number 5 Road, and it was settled.  Day 3 would be Tandoori Kona.

Richmond isn’t exactly known for Indian food, but this place was so good maybe it should be.  I invited my friend Joey along because a) she had the day off, b) we had a lot of catching up to do, and c) the girl LOVES Indian food.  She’s also approximately 1/3 my size and still manages to eat more than me, which amongst her many fine qualities I’ll find forever endearing.

Tandoori Kona, like Pho Han, is in a strip mall.  Since we were there in the afternoon, only a few other tables were occupied; two of the three groups were Indian patrons, however, which is always a good sign.

Perusing their menu was excruciating.  Cross-eyed with hunger, I wanted to declare (with a wide sweep of my arm) “we’ll take one of everything!” but managed to narrow it down.  We started with the Mixed Appetizer Platter ($7.95), which I’d hoped would let us try pakoras, onion bahjis, and samosas, but it was actually just vegetable, chicken, and fish pakoras.  I found the fish a bit overdone, but liked the others.  The platter came with two sauces, one spicy and the other sweet, which was made from tamarind.  I may have to cross-stitch the phrase “I HEART TAMARIND SAUCE” onto my pillow, too.

For mains, we ordered the Goat Saag ($13.95) and Tandoori Chicken ($11.95 a la carte), with condiments picked and paid for separately.  My nickname as a child was “The Condiment Queen,” so it’s no surprise that we ordered all three – raita, mango chutney, and mango pickles.  The saag came with rice and naan, which was enough for the two of us.

The goat was just what I’d been craving, slowly braised and served in a thick, spiced, spinach-y sauce.  Sizzling and red, the chicken arrived fresh from the tandoor, and the naan was soft and charred.

I love the salty and strong flavour of mango pickles, but if you’re trying them for the first time, I’d suggest cutting off only the tiniest sliver and starting with that.  They may look and sound cute (heck, MIA sang about them with kids), but mango pickles do not mess around.  Start slow.

For drinks we tried the mango lassi and chai.  The lassi – made with plain natural yogurt and fresh mango – was just as sour as it was sweet, and I’d gladly drink one each day with breakfast.  The chai, which was unsweetened with a bowl of sugar on the side, was milky and tasted of cardamom.  Some folks might like theirs  stronger, but I enjoyed its mild spice, and we didn’t need to add a grain of sugar to it.

My only complaint about the food was that the rice appeared to be mixed with frozen peas and chopped frozen carrots, which I found odd considering the quality of everything else.  But I was way too deep in a slow-braised nirvana to really care.  I also felt like our server might have struggled if he’d had more than two tables to deal with, but he was so darn polite that didn’t matter either.

For $60.22 (including a 20% tip), we were absolutely stuffed and had plenty of leftovers.  I’d suggest going in a group, ordering a ton of dishes, and enjoying it all while swaying to their mix of Bollywood and quasi-mainstream hits.  I would definitely go back to Tandoori Kona, and hope you’ll give it a try.

I’m also pleased to inform you that I’ve finally dealt with my grumpy rhubarb, though for anyone slightly confused about why I’ll be sharing more than just restaurant reviews, I’d like to explain now.  I believe strongly that food blogs can carve their own path rather than following those which have come before, and I’d like to make this blog about more than just restaurants.  It’s about my personal journey through Richmond – a city which has a lot more to offer than food alone – and the highs and lows of taking on 365 posts in one year.

I want to celebrate and enjoy food in dynamic ways, so in addition to food reviews, I’ll be sharing recipes, favourite dishes, and good food stories.  This is also to include people who may live nowhere near Richmond, but would still like to be involved.  Then when they do fly into Richmond someday, hopefully they’ll be ready and excited to taste some of its absolutely incredible cuisine.  Like I said yesterday, I greatly appreciate the feedback and support I’ve received, and hope I’m on my way to balancing it all well!

So now it’s time to introduce stewed rhubarb!  This was one of the simplest things I’ve ever made, and so good that I’ve already eaten half of it.  Here’s a link to the basic recipe I used, which I adjusted to fit my small amount of rhubarb and love of spice.  All in all, to the rhubarb I added sugar, orange peel, a pinch of vanilla salt, cracked whole allspice, two cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and chopped candied ginger.  I stirred in about a half cup of water, let it sit for a bit, then boiled it over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.  I was left with a kind of fragrant rhubarb sauce, ruby-red and ever so photogenic.  I’ve eaten it with plain yogurt, but would also love to try it on ice cream, or on something savoury like roast pork.  Hurray for rhubarb season, and perhaps I can pickup more next weekend at the Steveston Farmers Market!