Sangam, an Indian restaurant located on Eddy Street in Collegetown, is an example of the resilience and perseverance of some restaurateurs in Ithaca. Sangam remained open throughout the Pandemic, despite severe staffing issues that required crucial adjustments along the way. For patrons, the most impactful of these adjustments was Sangam’s ending their popular lunch buffet. However, the menu still offers an extensive selection of soups, appetizers, Tandoori specialties, beef, lamb, goat, chicken, rice, and seafood items. Indian cuisine is well known for cooking with vegetables and there are more than two dozen items in this category.
There are handwritten signs on the door and in the front window, “Dishwasher wanted.” This explains another series of adjustments. Meals are served on cardboard plates, with white plastic teaspoons, and slightly larger black plastic forks. Water comes in a plastic glass, while Chai tea arrives in a paper cup. Courses are served in a variety of takeout dishes, which certainly makes it easier to take home whatever you don’t finish in the restaurant.
These adjustments have allowed Sangam not just to keep operating in this challenging environment for restaurants, but to still serve lunch and dinner seven days a week.
Resiliency and flexibility aren’t the only things to admire about Sangam: The food is excellent. A combination of varying ground spices, especially cardamom and saffron, is evident in almost all the dishes served here. Lamb Shahi Korma ($16.95) consists of pieces of lamb cooked in butter, mixed with almonds, and served in a cream sauce. It was slightly spicy and delicious. The lamb pieces were tender.
If you prefer poultry to lamb, you might enjoy Chicken Mango ($14.95). This one wasn’t spicy at all. The chicken pieces were marinated in a mango sauce and cooked with small bits of broccoli and some mild spices. The mango sauce added a subtle sweetness to the flavor profile.
There’s a section of the menu devoted to Rice Specialties. The Indian word for this is Biryani which is Basmati rice mixed with veggies and/or meat. I tried Shrimp Biryani ($16.95). It was slightly spicy and included about eight, medium, beautifully cooked shrimp, along with some onion slices, green peppers, broccoli, and a variety of herbs, nuts, and raisins.
Another dish I can recommend was listed in the Tandoori Specialties. A Tandoor oven is made of clay, usually from India, and heated with charcoal. The slow and steady heat helps retain the juices of the meats, and breads are cooked on the walls of the oven. The dish I ordered was Tandoori Mixed Grill. It included a full chicken drumstick, bits of chicken, tender fish filet pieces, some ground lamb, along with a portion of Naan bread. And, as I worked my down the basket I discovered a number of sliced, white onions. I liked this dish.
A generous portion of Basmati rice is served with most dishes.
There’s a large selection of Tandoori breads. I selected one of the 18 offerings: Kashmiri Naan ($4.50). It was a large portion, served in foil, and flavored with raisins, nuts, and bits of coconut. I’m glad I tried it.
I admire the management of Sangam for continuously serving quality, authentic Indian food, seven days a week, lunch and dinner, without ever closing during the Pandemic or because of staffing shortages.
Tidbit: Sangam is an Indian holy place at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. It can also mean where two young people’s hearts merge and become one.
Sangam Indian Restaurant, 424 Eddy Street, (607) 273-1006, is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.