And speaking of crunch: the flash-fried wafers of lentil flour called papadum ($2), none better!
Vegetables, fortunately, while accepting the batter-and-boiling-oil fate with grace, also respond enthusiastically to other treatments, and in these, subcontinental cuisine happens to be rich. While there is a certain greatest-hits quality to Aslam's meatless choices, there is also a smattering of the less familiar, and all the dishes are made to the highest standard, with quality ingredients, careful preparation, and an enthusiasm for spicing that is perhaps the main reason so many people love this kind of food.
Among the less spicy of the vegetable preparations is dal saag ($9), an oblong platter of spinach cooked with lentils that tastes mainly, and appealingly, of spinach. The saag paneerist in our party found it acceptable but still yearned for saag paneer ($10) — spinach cooked with cubes of fresh white cheese and often (as here) charged with some real chili heat. Also quite lively was the chana masala ($8), spicy chickpeas stewed with tomato and onion. And while paneer tikka korma ($11) isn't exactly a vegetable (it consists of chunks of cheese bathed in a mild yogurt-fenugreek sauce), Aslam’s will be acceptable to vegetarians, at least to those of the lacto sect.
As a general proposition, desserts at South Asian restaurants can be safely ignored. Aslam's, though, has a pair of pretty good ones: a house-made cardamom ice cream called kulfi ($6), presented as a sliced roll, like a frozen banana; and a cardamom-and-saffron rice pudding (kheer, $4), creamy-rich and, by a nose, just sweet enough to qualify as a sweet. SFBG
Dinner: nightly, 5–11 p.m.
1037 Valencia, SF
Beer and wine
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