Someday there may be a forest of Mango Tree restaurants. Yet for now, Coeur d'Alene is the lucky new home of this small-but-growing franchise that started in Medicine Hat, Alberta, four years ago. Founder Rakesh Kaushal operates several Mango Tree locations in Canada and also owns a few Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar franchises. As of last month, he counts North Idaho as another area served.
Kaushal brought in chef Sanjay Uniyal from another Mango Tree location to develop and deliver the Coeur d'Alene restaurant's menu, which Kaushal describes as mostly northern Indian. Fans of Indian cuisine, however, will detect the panoply of styles and influences inherent in a cuisine that dates back more than 5,000 years, in a country roughly one-third the area of the United States, and bordered by equally ancient and diverse civilizations.
The Mango Tree's focus is on curry dishes and grilled items, says Kaushal, many of which will sound familiar: curry bowls such as tikka masala ($12), aloo gobi, a vegetarian dish ($11), and vindaloo curry ($12), as well as grilled items like mango-marinated chicken ($14), lamb chops ($16) and beef kabobs ($14). Other familiar items are samosa — pastry stuffed and fried — and naan (or flatbread), which also forms the basis of Mango Tree's equivalent of pizza, with cheese, pepperoni, spinach and other toppings ($8-$12).
Dishes can be ordered from one (mild) to five (volcanic) stars, and customers can request homemade chili paste if they're ready for the nuclear option. Remember that dairy balances the effect of heat-bearing spices, so try a glass of yogurt-based lassi ($4) or ask for a side of cooling raita, a yogurt-based sauce.
A sense of adventure is well advised at Mango Tree due to its unusually vague menu descriptions of precise spices, ingredients and cooking techniques. Keep in mind that learning about food can often be an important part of its enjoyment.
Yet Mango Tree makes up for this detail in its volume and variety of items: appetizers, grilled entrée, flatbreads and wraps, salads, a variety of rice dishes, assorted naan, curry bowls and desserts. It also offers an assortment of beer and wine, and both delivery and catering service. Flavors range from sweet, sour and spicy to savory, with more than enough to choose from to make every trip to the Mango Tree an interesting culinary adventure. ♦
The Mango Tree • 1726 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d'Alene • Open daily 11 am-10 pm • facebook.com/mangotreecda • 208-930-1416