New interpretations of classic Indian dishes like this vegetable kebab are Sapphire Cuisines of … [+] India’s specialty .

It’s been decades now that the range and diversity of Indian cuisine has been rampant in restaurants in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx, many within enclaves of Indian immigrants.  And though there is still a huge audience for the style of traditional Indian-American food found at what used to be called curry houses, Sapphire Cuisines of India’s name is quite special for its inclusiveness of regional cooking.
Sapphire Cuisines of India’s co-owner Darshan R. Shah is a veteran of old school Indian hospitality.
Darshan R. Shah, with partners Satish Arora and Steve Chopey, originally opened just at the onset of Covid-19 then promptly closed. They have re-located to upper Broadway (near Lincoln Center and the Beacon Theater), with Executive Chef Sachin Wagh, previously at adä, and sous chef Alpesh Rathod.
Outside there are tables on Broadway for warmer weather and inside the ceilings are high and arched, with banquette and table seating. A scenic wall painting was commissioned from the Fine Art Studio by artist Prasanna Kumar. The good-looking chandeliers, however, throw too cold a light that should be modified. Tablesettings are excellent, not least very thin, fine stemware.
Sapphire Cuisines of India’s dining room looks out on Broadway, where in good weather tables are … [+] also set on a terrace.

The key to the complexity of flavors at Sapphire  is that the kitchen grinds all its fresh spices, using none that may well have been ground last spring, according to shipping customs. If you think of the difference between freshly ground and bottled cinnamon, you’ll appreciate how different these flavors can be. As Shah described it, “Each dish has its special masala (blend of spices) and each region has specific spices in its blend; usually based on weather in that region. For example, in Northern India, where there usually is no central heat, many dishes will have lots ginger, clover, cardamon and cinnamon, as these spices warm your body, then they have the yogurt drink lassi, which coats the stomach fand keeps it from getting upset. In Southern India, where it is hot, lots of green chilies and spices that make you sweat in turn cool your body off.” 

An appetizer of millet and other grains with shredded mango is subtly spiced.
The à la carte menu contains many familiar Indian dishes prepared with those spices, but the best way to appreciate an array of the newer interpretations is with the $95 prix fixe menu  that allows diners to curate their own experience from an exclusive selection of 15 dishes—four choices for each savory course and three dessert choices.  We left ourselves in Shah’s hands and were delighted by what was brought to the table. 
A case in point is a lovely dish called “Vitamin bhel,” made with millet and other healthful grains like sorghum to which is added some raw mango and shredded flour crisps with tamarind sauce, Shah says that a similar dish is made in India where it is fried, while this version is not.
A mixed tandoori grill offers lamb, beef and chicken.
Dahi kebab, a Northern dish,  is a pan-seared strained yogurt mixed with spices to form a soft cake served over strips of raw mango slaw with mustard seeds. Morel mushroom biryani is made with golden saffron rice laced with aromatic truffle oil. 
Filet mignon is a specialty of Lucknow, here served with fingerling potatoes.
It’s been a while since I’ve had Chilean sea bass, because this once over-fished species began to be raised in farms with poor results. The specimen at Sapphire was superb, with a very appealing velvety texture and sweet flavor of the flesh, here enhanced in a rich, spicy coconut sauce. 
The mixed tandoori grill of lamb, beef and chicken keeps the meats’ succulence and spices distinct.
Pork ribs with a South Indian spiced marinade is a Goan dish influenced by the Portuguese taste for vinegared food like vindaloo. Do not expect charred ribs, for these are well sauced, served along with masala truffle fries. Quite unusual was a huge Black Angus filet mignon cooked as they do in the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. It comes with an abundance of cumin-dusted fingerling potatoes.
Chicken tikka is a traditional dish with a very creamy well-spiced sauce.
We tasted a few of the à la carte dishes as well, including tandoori-fired chicken tikka in a creamy tomato sauce with fenugreek leaves; and some wonderful lentil dal. The naan bread came hot, charred,  puffy and of the perfect chewiness.
 For dessert there was masala chai panna cotta, and a delectable new item called “Malpua and Rabri,” which are crêpes with reduced saffron milk sauce then sautéed in ghee butter  and accompanied by a cookie crumble served with a blueberry compote.       
Chai kheer is a very creamy Indian pudding dessert with strawberries and chopped chocolate.
The wine list is crafted to go with the robust seasonings of the food at Sapphire,  but I especially enjoyed the imported Flying House beer with Sapphire’s cuisine.
 I’ve known Darshan Shah for many years, though I hadn’t seen him in a decade., and he exudes both a pride in what makes Sapphire different and an Old School hospitality that has him dote on every guests. Impeccably pressed, he is a host of a kind that’s getting rarer and rarer at a time when so many Asian eateries seem to have forgotten good manners along with knowing what guest ordered what dish. 

SAPPHIRE CUISINES OF INDIA
2014 Broadway 
212-245-4444

Open for dinner Tues.-Sun.

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