Saffron Is Still The New Tampa Area’s Favorite Indian Cuisine!
No, I’m still not going to tell you that Indian food is high on my list of favorites, but I will say this — if you’re not sure if you like Indian cuisine, you really should try Saffron Indian Cuisine, located in the Cross Creek Center plaza on Cross Creek Blvd. at Kinnan St.
Owners Nimesh and Sunita Chheda will celebrate five years in business at the end of this year and there’s a lot of very good reasons why the restaurant’s regulars keep coming back time and again.
“We make everything fresh,” says Sunita. “And we use the finest ingredients and spices. People really appreciate our food.
One young family that happened in while I was taking pictures for this story told me that although their kids started out only eating the chicken fingers and fries from Saffron’s kids menu, they soon graduated to the chicken butter Masala and chicken Tikka Masala. “They really love it here,” said the busy mom, who obviously was into Saffron’s spicier options.
Well, although I love some spicy foods, I will admit that I haven’t been able to graduate to the “Indian spicy” items on Saffron’s menu. My favorite starter is still the garlic Naan bread, which is topped with garlic and cilantro and baked in the Tandoor oven. I also have enjoyed the meat samosa (triangular crispy pastries filled with meat and green peas) and definitely plan to try the chicken Kathi kabob rolls, which are sort of like a chunky grilled chicken taco with a soft wrap. But, whether you like a nice Mulligatawny stew, fried chicken, onion or even paneer (cottage cheese) pakoras or a Saffron special appetizer platter, you definitely can fill up fast on starters.
And of course, every time I visit Saffron, I have to still get the Tandoori oven lamb chops, which come out sizzling, like fajitas, and sitting atop equally delicious onions and peppers. I get these tender chops mild-tomedium, but they are always delicious. I can’t eat shrimp, but I do hear people rave about the spicy Tandoori shrimp all the time, too.
I also have enjoyed Saffron’s chicken butter Masala and chicken Madras (with coconut), the lamb Saagwala (which is lightly spiced and cooked in spinach) and the fresh fish tikka Masala.
Last year, freelancer Camille Gillies, a much more experienced Indian cuisine enthusiast who wrote about the trio of chutneys, a trio of which are served with papads (cracker-like lentil wafers) while you wait. I didn’t really enjoy the papads by themselves, but the cilantro and mint chutney and sweet tamarind chutney served with the papads definitely bring out some unexpectedly delicious flavors. When you visit this month, be sure to ask about the new items being added to Saffron’s special summer menu.
Saffron is named for an Indian spice and what really sets Indian cuisine apart even from Thai and other food that use a lot of curry flavors is the way the spices are used in every dish. Some pack serious heat, so make sure you ask if you don’t like spicy food, while others are just uniquely flavorful.
And of course, Saffron also has hot Masala tea and a variety of cold yogurt6 drinks, as well as unique, traditional Indian desserts.
Saffron Indian Cuisine (10044 Cross Creek Blvd.) is open for lunch Friday-Sunday and every day except Monday for dinner. Call 600-3315 and ask about Saffron’s special Father’s Day lunch buffet. Or, visit SaffronIndianCuisine.us. And, please tell them we sent you!