First Impressions: Located near the Medical Center on West Market Street in Johnson City, Sahib’s Indian Cuisine has been quietly attracting a clientele of true devotees of Indian cuisine, and the curious who want to know what all the excitement is about. Proprietor Vik Vatrana has managed to get maximum utility out of Sahib’s current digs; there is seating for about 40 in the front dining room with room for another 40 or so in the long room to the left. There is also space outside on the wrap-around porch for six or seven tables, though the weather and four lanes of traffic on West Market Street make dining al fresco an iffy prospect. Back inside, the wine and spirits bar is located centrally; the restrooms are to the back on your right.
Appetizers: As founder of our feast, the Retiree was determined to make sure our get-together would be memorable. Our friend had ordered ahead all of our supper courses for the evening, starting us with an appetizer platter of Vegetable Pakoras ($3.95). This is a mixture of sliced fresh cauliflower and broccoli florets, sliced zucchini chips, button mushroom caps and such, each dipped in a spiced batter and deep-fried until crunchy. The second appetizer for the evening was Sahib’s signature Tandoori Mix ($9.95) a combination of chicken, lamb, and beef portions grilled with sliced onions, colorful bell pepper strips and mushrooms, all broiled on an iron serving tray and then flambéed just before arriving at table. Delicious and enjoyed by all. To help cool things off, owner Vatrana brought us an accompanying bowl of Raita ($2.95) a mix of potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes in yogurt that was much appreciated.
Chicken Tikka Masala: Our friend the Retiree said we would be enjoying three of Sahib’s classic specialty entrees as our main course. The first was Sahib’s classic Chicken Tikka Masala ($13.95). This is one of the Dieter’s favorite Indian dishes, being grilled chunks of marinated white meat chicken that have been simmered in a spice-filled sauce of yogurt and lemon juice, then blended into a tomato cream sauce and simmered some more. A tasty stew indeed and even better when scooped up with a wrapper of warm Na’an bread.
Lamb Curry: My dining partner has never been a big fan of lamb; something to do with the meat’s somewhat “wild-game” flavor, I suppose. Whatever the reason, the Retiree invoked the dine-around bunch house rule on “No Thank You” helpings so that everyone on the team could get a taste of our second entrée, Sahib’s signature lamb curry. This is a stew of lean chunks of lamb slow simmered in a curry sauce that is redolent of turmeric, cumin and coriander. I couldn’t tell you when I’d last eaten lamb curry but I was going to make sure I enjoyed every bite this time around. So when my dining partner had her “No Thank You” helping, the rest of the dine-around bunch and I were there to finish off what was left of the lamb curry.
Vegetable Jalfrezi: Our last entrée was the Retiree’s favorite, a savory vegetable jalfrezi ($12.95) made from diced pieces of carrot, potato, onion and tomato. Fresh green peas are added next, followed with a blended sauce made of spices, coconut milk, melted cheese (paneer) and yogurt. After simmering for an hour, it was ready to serve. I had my portion with some succulent basmati rice, positively scrumptious.
And for dessert … : By the time the last of Valtrana’s savory entrees had been sopped up with Sahib’s excellent Na’an bread, we were a well-satisfied dine-around bunch. The dessert course proved to be Kheer ($3.95) a homemade rice pudding, mildly sweet and just the thing to help dampen any curry-caused tummy fires.
Conclusion: Make your mind up to it; dining out with friends at Sahib’s will not be your usual get-together. The venue is utilitarian but comfortable, the service friendly, professional and unobtrusive, and the food masterfully prepared and thoroughly delicious. No, you will find as we did that your get-together will very easily turn into an event. So why not drop by Sahib’s, have a chat with Vik Vatrana and let him set up an event for you and your friends? You’ll be glad you did.
Sahib’s Indian Cuisine
1803 W. Market St.
Daily 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Available on Facebook & at
Credit cards accepted