INDIAN RESTAURANT REVIEW | Tandoori and Musafir in Istanbul
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Review of Tandoori and Musafir in Istanbul   


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Lovers of Indian cuisine in Istanbul might mistakingly feel they aren’t being catered for. Restaurant guides and website directories such as often don’t even have an Indian category in their search engines.

And among Istanbulites the Indian cuisine doesn’t feature high on the agenda, it is often described as “too hot, too spicy”.

There is a minority, however, who might have sampled good Indian fare abroad, probably in London or the US or who are simply keen to experience what Indian food is really like.


There’s help available in form of two fine dining spots serving up an authentic variety of tastes from the large country on the sub-Asian continent and its neighbours.

“Tandoori” is an authentic Indian restaurant, tucked away in a little side street of Akaretler Suleyman Seba Caddesi, the road leading from Besiktas’ Maritime Museum towards Macka. Hard to find, the visitor gets reimbursed by the original atmosphere of the 40-seater restaurant, comprising decorations using fabrics, lamps and cooking vessels and that leave, together with Bollywood music, no doubt of its identity.

The few staff, exclusively from India and Pakistan, speak both English and Turkish and are friendly and helpful, even cater for wishes that might not be found on the large menu, which contains classic Indian and Pakistani items such as Poppadoms with various sauces, an appetizer plate with Prawn and Chicken Pakoras (fried chicken cubes or prawns), onion bhajis, samosas and spring rolls as well as Aloo Tikki (mashed potatoeswith spices and herbs) for starters.

Main courses range from Tandoori dishes – the word “tandoori” means “baked in the clay oven” – and there is chicken, lamp and prawns to choose from. Alternatively, there’s the “classic” section with Lamb or Chicken Tikka Masala, also dishes from Karachi, Sri Lanka and variations in spice with Jalfrezi, Rogan Josh and Korma. Indian food can be classified either regionally or in its degree of spicyness: while creamy Korma is at the low end of the scale, Vindaloo is at the top end and only recommended for die-hard fans of curry and chili. It is of course possible to ask the waiter to prepare any dish with less spice in order to keep the experience pleasant.

All dishes can be accompanied by a good selection of rice and vegetable dishes such as Basmati, Potatoes and, if in season, Brinjal Bhaji, an aubergine dish. There’s also a large menu for vegetarians as one would expect in Indian cooking. There’s also the obligatory Naan Bread.

The restaurant doesn’t sell alcohol, so it is probably an ideal choice for an extensive lunch.

A group of diners might want to select a range of dishes in order to sample many different tastes and if there’s still space for a dessert, the Tandoori offers an interesting selection of sweet carrot, banana and cream dishes.

A full three-course lunch or dinner for one person generally hardly exceeds 50 YTL, which is very good value for money.
In summary this is an authentic experience of Indian cooking with a modest price range.

Adress: Akaretler Suleyman Seba Caddesi, Cavdarcı Sokak No: 149, 1 Macka – Besiktas, Tel: 0212 236 75 51.

How to get there: By bus to Besiktas Maritime Museum, then a 15-minute walk up the hill towards Macka, the restaurant is in a side street to the left.

An alternative is “Musafir” (Guest) in Taksim. This slightly smaller restaurant, with its popular location in Receppasa Caddesi, a pedestrian street just off Cumhuriyet Caddesi, has somewhat adapted to Turkish clients with its mix of Turkish and Indian staff. Bookings are recommended as the eatery is often frequented by guests of the surrounding hotels, however, there’s outside seating available during the summer.

The restaurant is tastefully decorated, but doesn’t necessarily make you feel you’ve just entered a different world. However, the food does:

The menu features a wide range of classic Indian food, with various Kebabs, Onion Bahjis accompanied by Poppadoms and Vegetable Samosa, but also soups for starters. Main dishes comprise a selection of different meats and vegetables cooked in a mild Josh sauce, a range of chicken dishes in varying degrees of spicyness with Vindaloo at the top. Here too, the waiters, who are very friendly and quite like a chat, are happy to tell the kitchen chef to use less spice upon request. There’s even fish and a good vegetarian selection too. Rice, bread and salad complete the large menu, which only features two desserts, but if you’ve eaten all of the above, you won’t probably feel like one anyway.

There’s no alcohol available here either, but a good selection of differently flavoured “Lassi”, the traditional Indian-style yoghurt drink.

All in all the “Musafir” is probably the best choice for someone new to Indian food in order to get a good impression, but doesn’t want to go too extreme on their first outing. Prices are adequate and probably compete well with other restaurants in the area with 60-70 YTL per person for a three course meal.

Address: Receppasa Caddesi, No.: 11/A, Talimhane, Taksim, Tel.: 0212 235 2741.

How to get there:
walk from ksim square to Talimhane Metro Station, the entrance is just around the corner 250 m down the street.

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