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Cox: Pamposh at top of game

  • Mixed Seafood Tikka Kebab with marinated tandoori grilled fish and jumbo prawns is served at Pamposh Restaurant in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

The readers of The Press Democrat have spoken, and Pamposh Indian Restaurant in Santa Rosa has tied as Best Asian Restaurant for 2013. One name explains this success: Uddab Timilsina.

This soft-spoken native of Nepal has cooked at many Indian and Himalayan restaurants in Sonoma County during the past 14 years, interpreting Indian, Nepali and Kashmiri dishes with great skill. He's been at Pamposh for nine years, where he's established the room's reputation for excellence.

Pamposh means “lotus flower” in Kashmiri, and is a name often given to male children. Kashmir is a beautiful land in South Asia, tucked up against the Himalayas west of Nepal and east of Pakistan, its northern part controlled by Pakistan and its southern part by India. Mona Dhar is the owner of the restaurant along with her husband, Santa Rosa cardiologist Dr. Sanjay Dhar, and her brother, Sumeer Karihaloo. They are all originally from Kashmir, and so chef Timilsina's Nepalese background fits right in with their plan to bring this style of Indian cooking to Sonoma County.

Pamposh Indian Restaurant

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Individual Indian art pieces adorn the front of each menu, which lists Kashmiri dishes like the spicy lamb curry called rogan josh, luscious chicken korma, the restaurant's signature dish of lamb or chicken in an apricot-coconut sauce, and the exotic cups of herb and spiced chai. These dishes and others prepared by chef Timilsina use spices that infuse the main ingredients with that distinct Indian character — turmeric, cardamom, coriander, black pepper, ginger, garlic, cumin, saffron, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves.

We've entered the height of the apricot season now, and the restaurant's lovely Lamb in Apricot Sauce ($15.95 ****) could hardly be better. The sauce is not just pureed apricot, but pairs the fruit with coconut and herbs, and the lamb is perfectly tender. These ingredients are cooked in a pan into a curry whose flavor elements blend together.

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