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Multi-Influenced Fine Indian Cuisine With a Punjabi Touch

PARSIPPANY — Resham “Bobby” Dhannapuneni departed his home in the Punjabi region of Northwestern India and arrived in the U.S. 22 years ago.  Among the things that Bobby, as he likes to be called, did take with him was a love of cooking and his family recipes, including some authentically wonderful Punjabi delicacies that are featured at his restaurant, Apna Swad.

Apna Swad, which translates to ‘Our Taste’, is a relatively small, but comfortable and cozy restaurant located on North Beverwyck Road in downtown Lake Hiawatha.  The restaurant which specializes in fine Indian cuisine is a family-owned and operated business, with Chef Resham (Bobby) preparing the made-to-order entrees, while his wife Kulwinder takes charge of the appetizers. Son, Suhil, a pleasant and amiable Parsippany High School student helps out, competently maneuvering the dining area, bussing tables, and serving customers. As Suhil puts it, “I manage the “front room” responsibilities while my parents take care of the “back room” (kitchen).

Apna Swad boasts a tastefully crafted dining area featuring a select number of spacious wooden tables, each offering comfortable cushioned seating, alongside inviting brown booths for added comfort.

Among the many little storefront eateries along North Beverwyck Road, it is easy to pass by Apna Swad without giving it much notice, but my foodie group and I decided to stop in for a visit after hearing some rave reviews about the cuisine. Chef Resham took a chance, with this, his first restaurant, and acquired the street corner location in 2021 during the COVID shutdown. Previously the location housed a Japanese restaurant, Misaki Sushi. Following six months of extensive renovation Apna Swad was ready to open its doors. The brick and glass frontage, along with the bright red and white signage, and white and maroon curtains, makes for an attractive exterior. On entry, you will encounter a tastefully designed dining room with a limited number of comfortably spaced wooden tables, with cushioned seating and brown cushioned booths. Those large front windows, along with those aligning the side of the room, provide soft, comfortable ambient lighting.  Colorful curtains, soft woodwork, mauve walls, hanging ceiling lighting, some simple Indian artifacts, and soft Indian music playing in the background complete the dining room to create a relaxing and welcoming vibe.

Chicken Biryani (tender pieces of chicken cooked in slow-steamed basmati rice, with nuts and raita)

 On arrival, the very personable and respectful Chef Resham warmly greeted our group.  Comfortably seated at a group of tables, already set up in an aesthetically pleasing arrangement, we were able to banter a bit with the Chef about his recommendations for our shared appetizers. Even though we’ve all been to many Indian restaurants before there’s always something new to learn and new tastes to experience.  I have always found Indian food to be both exciting and intimidating, filled with exotic ingredients, earthy spices, and distinct and tantalizing flavors, offering a wide and diverse range of tongue-tingling sensations. Needless to say, we were all looking forward to what promised to be a very flavorful dining experience.

Paneer Pakora (homemade Indian cheese squares, batter dipped & fried till golden, and served with a choice of a red or green chutney)

Several of us started with a bowl of Mulligatawny Soup (a delicate lentil soup), which I have to say, was fantastic! The herbs and spices, along with the aroma made this creamy soup starter a home run. Delicious!  We all followed with a combination of Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian appetizers. Paneer Pakora (homemade Indian cheese squares, batter dipped & fried till golden, and served with a choice of a red or green chutney). I’m on team green chutney. Onion Bhaja (onion fritters), Aloo Tikki (crisp potato patties, shallow fried, with mild spices), and the Chef made us a knock-your-socks-off Special Chicken dish (mouthwatering battered chicken, deep-fried, wonderfully spiced). The appetizers came accompanied by some freshly made, amazingly tasty Papad Bread and Garlic Naan. Everything was thoroughly enjoyed and a great start to our individual entrée choices.

bowl of Mulligatawny Soup (a delicate lentil soup)

I should note, that everything is made to order with all fresh ingredients. It may take a few more minutes for your meal to arrive because of this, but believe me, it is well worth the wait.

Goat Masala (pieces of goat cooked in a mild sauce with fresh tomato and Indian spices)

For our entrees, I chose the Fish Tandoori (juicy pieces of salmon marinated in herbs and spices, baked over charcoal in a tandoor).  FYI: A Tandoor is a traditional cylindrical clay oven that can produce remarkably high heat that helps the food to char, while it cooks. The fats in the marinade drip on the fire/hot coal and generate smoke which imparts the tandoori foods with their characteristic smoky flavor. I loved it, the flavor and taste was delectable. Others in the group went with Lamb Curry (lamb in a light gravy), Lamb Vindaloo (lamb in a light gravy with red chilis, vinegar, and potatoes), Chicken Biryani (tender pieces of chicken cooked in slow-steamed basmati rice, with nuts and raita), Goat Masala (pieces of goat cooked in a mild sauce with fresh tomato and Indian spices. Finally, Lamb Rogan Josh (cubes of lamb, marinated in Indian spices, and cooked in tomato sauce). We all chose to go with a spicier version of our chosen dishes (Note: Chef Resham can adjust the spice level of a dish to accommodate your particular taste). Along with our entrees, we all ordered a Mango Lassi as a side beverage. Mango Lassi, which originated in Punjab, is a creamy, frothy, yogurt-based drink, blended with water and various fruits or seasonings. It’s perfect to calm the heat of a very spicy dish, not to mention, it’s delicious. The meal ended with a serving of Gulab Jaman for dessert (a light pastry, made with milk and honey in a thick syrup.  If you have a sweet tooth this is right up your alley.

Lamb Vindaloo (lamb in a light gravy with red chilis, vinegar, and potatoes)

Apna Swad gave us a sensational dining experience with wickedly good food, friendly and efficient service, and reasonable prices. We will be back. On a note, Apna Swad does not offer a buffet during regular dining hours but does provide a buffet-style setting when having a private party at the restaurant. They do have an impressive in-house menu offering Veg and Non-Veg appetizers, Cold Appetizers, Soups, Combo Dinners, Chicken, Goat, Lamb, Seafood Specialties, Tandoori Kabab, Biryani, along with a large assortment of Tandoori Breads and Desserts. They also offer several Punjabi-style specials.

Gulab Jaman for dessert (a light pastry, made with milk and honey in a thick syrup

All in all, our group gave Apna Swad a unanimous thumbs up. When you’re in the area, stop in and give it a try. Whether an Indian food aficionado or just someone who just wants to experience something new, it is a great place to enjoy some of the world’s most diverse and flavorful food.

ਆਪਣੇ ਖਾਣੇ ਦਾ ਆਨੰਦ ਮਾਣੋ

Āpaṇē khāṇē dā ānada māṇō

Apan Swad (Fine Indian Cuisine) is located at 81 North Beverwyck Road. Phone: (973) 588-3390. www.apnaswadnj.com; Closed Mondays for Lunch. Dine In – Take Out. BYOB – Parking on the Side of Bldg. – Catering – Private Parties; Lunch: Tuesday to Friday – 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday – 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Dinner: Monday to Thursday – 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday – 5:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday – 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. 

Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine – May 2024. Click here to read the magazine.

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Patrick Minutillo
Patrick Minutillo
Patrick Minutillo is a longtime Parsippany resident covering restaurant reviews for Parsippany Focus and Morris Focus. Reviews will also appear in Parsippany Focus Magazine, Tri-Town Focus Magazine as well as Morris Focus Magazine.
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