Monday, August 27, 2012

Raj Darbar

While I said in my previous post that many Indian restaurants could be found on Devon Avenue in Rogers Park, there are a few others spread around the city. I visited Raj Darbar, which means The Royal Court and is located on Halsted St. in Lincoln Park.  It has taken me a while, but I have grown to like Indian food.  Because the flavors are very different, it has taken me a while to get a handle on it.  There are a lot of bars and restaurants on the section of Halsted where Raj Darbar is located so, unless you know exactly where you are going, it is easy to miss.  The awning is marked but there is no sign as such.  I managed to pass it without noticing and I did know the address so I had to go back.  When I did find the place, I was seated quickly and given a menu.  The menu is large and the prices are surprisingly affordable.  There was also a good wine selection but I decided to go with a traditional Indian drink, the Mango Lassi which is a sweet, mango-flavored, yogurt drink.  I looked, at the appetizers and while they did have samosas which I really like, I decided to go in a different direction and got what was called a Jheenga Til Tinka.  These were shrimp that are marinated in yogurt, lemon juice, and paprika, skewered, and deep fried.  The skewers were served with onion slices.  The crust on this was solid and very crispy but the shrimp was tender and the flavor was flavorful and slightly spicy.  It was very good and as an appetizer is supposed to do, set me up for the main course.

When the main course arrived, I knew that there was no way I was going to finish it but I would give it a try.  I got what was called the Darbar Special which was a combo plate that had a wide selection of Indian dishes.  It was actually served on four dishes and plates.  It started with chicken curry and rice in separate dishes, continued with a sizzling griddle topped with Tandoori Shrimp, Tandoori Chicken Tikka, and Boti (Lamb) Kebab, and finished with some very good and fluffy Naan.  It was all very good, kind of spicy, and more than I could eat.  I ate well, but I did leave enough room for dessert.

With the dessert, I had no idea of what I was getting.  I saw that the desserts were listed on the menu but I generally don't look at the desserts until I have my main course.  I saw that there were four desserts and there were a few kulfi, which is an Indian Ice Cream type dessert.  While it is good, I decided to go in a different direction (again) and ordered something where I had no idea what I was going to get.  It was called Galub Jamun and while I was told it was deep fried milk balls, I had no idea what that meant.  What I received was a bowl with a clear liquid in which sat 3 round and very smooth balls.  The balls were very light and spongy and had a sweet flavor.  What I have to guess is that the balls were sponge cake that had been soaked in evaporated milk.  The balls were very good but the liquid in which they sat seemed to be a simple syrup and was really not that exciting.  It was good but I am not sure if I would order it again.

While the food was good here and there was a lot, the restaurant really needed more waiters.  My waiter was friendly and very good, he was just too busy to provide attentive service.  While the food is good, Indian food is really a change of pace cuisine so i probably won't be returning soon.

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