Atithi is hidden away in a side street off Jln, Melasti, It is a small Indian eating house that offers home-style food at bargain prices. Not only is it a family style restaurant but the family will cook for you and serve you at the table, happily telling you all about the food with a passion that only comes from food lovers, this is more than just a business for them it is a way of life.
Many standard dishes are here but also some interesting new ones, North Indian street-food but from a hygienic kitchen, and a few home creations. Aola Chaat is a popular street food dish [very vaguely similar to the Mexican nachos] with small triangular pieces of thin crisp 'papri' wafers, nicely spiced, tossed with potato, yoghurt and mint.
Or you can start with the ever popular Samosas, a crispy pastry shell [crunchy Indian style] that is full of either vegetables or chicken. Papadums are there of course, or maybe a Papadum Masala. Deep-fried Pakodas can be with vegetables or cottage cheese dipped in an Indian flour mix before frying, nice and light.
The Hara Bara Kebabs are a good example of the wide variety of vegetarian dishes in Indian cuisine. Pureed spinach and potato are moulded into small round patties with a cashew nut in the centre, order a plate of these and share them, vegetarian with taste! As with many dishes here you eat one piece and can not stop yourself from going back for another.
Fish Fingers sound simple but these ones have been dipped in a yoghurt and spice mix before deep frying. Deep Fried Chicken is cubes of that meat tossed with spices. Then there is the Mutton Shami Kebab, chunks of lamb, again marinated before cooking.
Being in a very strong tourist area, behind many major hotels facing Pantai Kuta, there is also a handful of western and fusion snacks and dishes. They even offer Burgers [chicken or vegetarian] and French Fries for that unadventurous member of your group. The Chilli Paneer and Chicken [cubes of cottage cheese or chicken] are marinated in a Chinese style sweet and sour sauce and served with veggies.
Indian restaurants always have a great selection of vegetarian dishes, the type that is even enjoyed by those who would normally never order a vegetarian dish. Top of the list is the Malai Kofta, sausage-like dumplings of cottage cheese simmered and served in a creamy sauce. Mutter Mushroom Masala combines mushrooms and green peas, Aolo Gobhi cauliflower and potato and Subz Bahar, mixed vegetables.
That king of healthy vegetables, lentils, is presented in a Dahl Tadka [curry leaves and chilli] or Dahl Makani [black lentils after a long slow cooking process]. Sheekh Kebabs [chicken, mutton or vegetarian] are minced and moulded into sausage shapes on skewers before roasting in the tandoor. At Atithi they also have their own specialty of stuffed potatoes, cauliflower or mushrooms roasted in the tandoor, once again tasty vegetarian.
Tandoori is a dry curry, marinated in yoghurt and spices then slow roasted in the tandoor [an Indian oven, originally a hole in the ground lined with clay] so that the curry mix dries on the outside. Popular around the world as a meal, entrée or a snack to take away is Tandoori Chicken which is cooked and served on the bone whilst Chicken Tikka is just cubes of flesh. Other offerings from the tandoor include cottage cheese and fish. Yet another unusual dish is the Tangri Kebab, chicken drumsticks [4 of them] that have had the meat pared back from the bone with a mix of minced chicken and peas stuffed inside before the usual tandoor cooking process, they are finger licking good!
The list of wet curries includes many familiar dishes. The lamb curry, Rogan Josh, is the favourite of those looking for a mild curry yet still enjoyed by those who normally order spicier offerings. Even milder and more fragrant is Murg Makhani better known as Butter Chicken.
More exotic are the Kalimirch, cottage cheese, lamb or chicken which is cooked on a spicy black pepper curry and Ki Kadhai Se which is chicken or paneer chunks first marinated then cooked in a curry with onions, tomatoes and peppers added.
Fish, Chicken and Mixed Vegetable curries are also available as well as a Prawn Masala. The accompanying rice is the Indian long grain Basmati which can be plain or tossed in the wok with vegetables, chicken or mutton [Biryani].
At Atithi you are surrounded by contented diners, many of whom are returning for repeat visits. This is not 'fine dining' but a budget priced eating house with a very relaxed atmosphere where enjoyment is the major concern. Do not be afraid to ask the owner for their recommendations, you may discover some new tastes that you would have otherwise have missed.
Dining should be a fun experience as well as just to satisfy your hunger, At Atithi it always seems to be just that. Great value!