Least Conventional African Cuisine


When you walk into Tanjia you know there’s no going back. The door swings shut behind you and you’re enveloped in a silky tent of fabric. No outside light penetrates the den. The tables are low and you sit on pillows. There are only two menus (one $21.95, the other $23.95), and both let you choose your main course: tagines — Moroccan stews — couscous plates, or meat entrées. Once you order, the ritual aspects of the meal commence. The waiter washes your hands with a kettle full of warm water and gives you a towel (which comes in handy later in the meal when you realize you’re not getting any silverware). Mint tea is poured from on high, and then the food starts: a bowl of spicy lentil soup, a salad plate of marinated vegetables. Then comes something extraordinary: the Bastilla — a flaky round of phyllo filled with shredded chicken and almonds and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. The play between sweet and savory flavors combined with the texture of the buttery phyllo is outstanding. After your main course and dessert, you’ll be anointed with orange-blossom water before you’re released into the world you once knew.

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