The Skinny: Chicken and Chickpeas at Bombay Spice

by Wynter Holden

After last week's adventure into grannyville, I thought I'd venture into trendier territory this week. So when I suggested a mid-week trek to the upscale, chic Bombay Spice Indian bistro at 16th St. & Glendale in Phoenix, my roommates squealed and said, "hell, yeah!" Since my return to Phoenix, I've been craving some decent chicken curry, and I'd heard this place was awesome. Apparently, my roomies heard the same thing. Plus, one's a vegetarian, and I'm a slightly anemic carnivore, so finding someplace all of us can eat out comfortably together can be a challenge.

Since Michele Laudig's glowing review, few things have changed. The menu's still heathful fare with no butter, cream or heavy oil. What has changed is that the bistro's chefs have calculated calorie counts for nearly every entree and written them down in a three-ring binder which the manager let me take a peek at. A 55-calorie appetizer? 100-calorie entrees? Score!

I ordered a combo plate of chicken curry and classic tikka masala with basmati rice and thin chapatti bread. My roomies convinced me to try the signature appetizer, chickpea ceviche. Now, I don't mind chickpeas when they're mashed with garlic and red pepper, but I don't exactly dig them solo. And I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes or onions. But oh. My. God. Seriously, I almost downed the entire plate myself. Somehow, without adding calories, sugar or milk, the hearty plate of salsa-like stuff tasted creamy and sweet.

The chicken curry was succulent and savory, without the usual bite that ethnic foods have. The rice was light and fluffy, and the portions were so generous that I filled half of a take-home box with my leftovers. Which I'm eating now, while blogging.

Unless you're visiting New York City soon, you're not likely to find calorie counts on a menu. Still, Bombay Spice offered a good lesson -- it doesn't hurt to ask the staff, because the chef just might know.

If you visit Bombay Spice, don't fret that you don't have my mad "sucking up to the manager" skills. You don't need to score a visit to the kitchen to see the calorie counts for your dish. According to Director of Operations Bo Keller, that info will hit the restaurant's Web site very soon.

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