769 E Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
A recent invite to Imli on Passyunk meant a dinner out with some local food writers, and a chance to eat somewhere I haven't been. The result was some of the best Indian food I have eaten in the city, and putting some faces to names of the Philly food scene.
Imli greets you with a waft of delicious Indian aromas, and the bright interior is quite inviting. As a bonus, they are BYOB, so you can match some big wines with big flavors.
We were brought out the samosas first, these were large, deeply fried and packed with flavorful curried potato, peas, and served with mint tamarind sauce.
The butter naan was another crowd-pleaser. Nicely browned, and the perfect vessel to scoop up the remnants of the various sauces.
The rashmi kebab presented charred chunks of chicken with sugar threads on top for effect. Served on romaine with red onion, this dish was visually appealing, and interesting, but it was lacking any discernible flavor profile.
The chicken Seekah kebab packed more memorable flavors, including I believe coriander, and garam masla. The textures were nice on this minced tandoori dish, with tender meat and crunchy specks for contrast. It was a sort of chicken sausage, but not really.
Kalmi kebabs were yet another tandoori favorite, with tender chicken thighs.
The baingan bhurta, an eggplant dish stewed with tomatoes, offered a rich repository for wayward naan.
My favorite dish of the bunch was probably the shrimp aachri, cooked in rich spices and loaded with snappy acidity.
Lamb korma was right up there, though it did not photograph quite as well. If it isn't apparent by now, I got to taste just about all of it. Pure sensory overload.
Let's be honest, there isn't much Indian food that photographs well; it's too bad most dishes look like a thick, monochrome soupy blob. However, looks can be deceiving and the flavors here at Imli really surprised me.
Chicken tikka masala had the smooth consistency that makes it an intro to Indian food winner. The rich gravy perfectly suited the tender chicken morsels.
Basically, you will be hard pressed to not have a good time at this place, no matter what some of the finicky reviewers may say. I really loved the food, and would put it above Tiffin based on my experiences that night. As always, your mileage may vary.