Enthusiasm is contagious and you are sure to catch it at Marigold Maison Indian Cuisine. Aside from the delicious food, one thing that stood out as remarkable to me during my recent visit was the enthusiasm of corporate executive chef, Sunil Kumar. Traveling to India every year to maintain a knowledge of the food culture, he shows pride and enthusiasm for the plates he puts out.
And I am proud to proclaim I have a love affair with Indian food. I love the warmth and heartiness of the dishes, I love the complexity of the spices, and I love naan. I could polish off a dozen pieces of the blistered Indian flatbread and will still crave more. The naan at Marigold Maison is perfection. The Mirchi Naan arrived at our table piping hot and covered with chili, cilantro and other spices. It was a taste sensation that matched the boldness of the other dishes. The Kashmiri Naan was a new taste to me, sweet and more dense than what I am used to but absolutely delightful with fleck of sweet, chewy bits of dried fruits. Our meal actually started with traditional papadums (crispy lentil crackers) served with a trio of sauces and chutneys. Spicy, delicious and satisfying.
The Butter Shrimp that followed was rich and flavorful, succulent shrimp generously bathed in a velvety chipotle cream sauce.
Next up was a Mango Salad that acted as a palate cleanser with the brightness of the fruit and the fresh greens. Tomato, seeds, almonds and raisins added a blast of textures and flavors. The whole thing was tossed in a mango mustard dressing that added the perfect balance of flavor contrast to the business of the salad. The marriage of ingredients was as beautiful to look at as it was delicious to eat.
Chef Kumar’s dishes stays true to the traditional tastes of Indian cuisine but lightens them up using ingredients such as olive oil instead of butter and coconut milk instead of cream. The complexity of flavors are still there but his dishes are more modern than what American palates may expect from Indian food. He is able to maintain the distinctive tastes by using spices he grinds in-house and by staying true to his culture and heritage. I got a sneak peek of his wall of spices in the kitchen and was a bit overwhelmed by the vastness and variety. Dozens upon dozens of large see-through containers stacked upon the shelves, creating a colorful kaleidoscope of powders, pods, herbs and blends; some I had never even heard of. It was amazing and it gave me and idea of how intricate this type of cuisine is.
The Marigold Briyani is a classic Indian dish made with dum long grain rice and Briyani spices. Savory chunks of lamb are studded throughout the dish and it had a heat that crept up on me. The creamy yogurt raita was a welcome addition to help cool things off. Chicken Vindaloo is my favorite Indian dish and the one I find most approachable, it’s a spicy, yet comforting stew made with wine, vinegar, mustard and cumin seeds creating a rich orange hued gravy that enveloped succulent pieces of tender chicken, it’s served with fluffy basmati rice studded with fresh green peas. The Malai Kofta is a dish of pillowy dumplings made with paneer cheese, potato and cauliflower all swimming in a creamy saffron sauce. Again, comfort food on an international scale.
Marigold Maison recently expanded their space to include 64 additional seats in the main dining room, a 24 seat private dining room and a full indoor/outdoor bar with patio seating.
Indian food may still be a little intimidating to some tastes but Marigold Maison would be the perfect place to get addicted to the bold flavors. Chef Kumar puts love and thought into every dish and his contagious enthusiasm can be tasted in every bite.
Marigold Maison is located at 4720 E Cactus Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85032.
Disclaimer: I attended a media dinner and received a complimentary meal to help facilitate this write-up, however all opinions stated in this post are entirely my own.