Curry, on or off pizza
Sahej India Grill
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Whoever invented Indian pizza deserves a hug.
Several pizzerias in Sacramento offer chicken tikka masala on top of a standard pie—no, the crust isn’t naan, sorry—and I’m not sure when the fusion concept really became a thing, though we can likely trace it locally back to 1st Choice Pizza & Curry’s opening in Elk Grove in 2013.
Still, it’s rare to find a full-scale Indian restaurant that also serves pizza—not to mention, a really good Indian restaurant, where you will have a top-notch meal with or without pizza.
At Sahej India Grill, which opened roughly six months ago, the chicken is succulent, the vegetables crisp, the cheese gooey and the crust remarkably light, soft and greaseless while remaining sturdy. Where Sahej beats most pizzerias is, unsurprisingly, the curry sauce itself: slightly sweet, comforting and nuanced. A 12-inch pie goes for $15.99.
Is the pizza a gimmick to get folks in the door? Maybe, but Sahej seems to have no trouble with that at lunch. The enormous restaurant—elaborately decorated with red, white and blue drapery—gets packed with groups enjoying Sahej’s $9.99 buffet. The spread is impressive, with multiple vegetarian and meaty curry options, various chutneys, dessert and more unusual South Indian offerings, like idli or dosas on the weekends. Even under heat lamps, none of the meats were overcooked and the pakora stayed nice and crisp.
That’s why Sahej is adding a dinner buffet for $14.99—pizza included—within a month. Standard dinner service hasn’t quite caught on in the same way. Perhaps blame the location, tucked away in a nondescript West Sacramento shopping center with little foot traffic.
Too bad, because the quality at this family-run operation rises quickly if you’re willing to pay for it. At the buffet, the butter chicken’s curry sauce was tasty but thin. Ordered agrave; la carte ($12.99), it felt velvety and luxurious with bold, complex spiciness ordered at the medium level. Servers warn the spicy is too spicy for most, but it probably depends on the dish. The lamb saag ($13.99) at medium left my mouth tingling—and craving more of the rich, deeply savory spinach curry so thick you could happily eat it by itself. But the baigan bhartha ($11.99), also ordered at medium, while earthy, smoky and delicious enough to convert eggplant haters, didn’t deliver any fiery heat.
The prices are slightly higher than most Indian restaurants in the area, but most dishes come with basmati rice, and servers will happily bring out more if you finish the initial serving. Of course, you’ll also want to order some naan ($1.99), which you can also get with a variety of thin fillings for a couple of bucks extra.
Owner Sukhvir Singh will probably bring out your food. He’s warm and extremely polite—like everyone who works at Sahej—and clearly takes pride in the restaurant’s creations. It probably doesn’t hurt that his dad is the chef.
One of Singh’s favorite dishes is the goat biryani ($13.99), a light and airy heap of aromatic basmati, flavored with cumin and saffron, and a generous amount of braised, tender meat. Chopped nuts add textural contrast and the cucumber yogurt sauce on the side helps the flavors pop. It’s still unusual to find goat in local Indian restaurants, but Sahej offers it in several preparations and even in its buffet—and yes, the goat stayed tender under heat lamps as well.