Royal India serves food fit for royaltyEditorial Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Many restaurants will try and boast their food is authentic and that the flavors will transport you to far away lands; many of them, however, will fall short upon critical analysis.
However, there are some that can accomplish this seeming impossible task. There is nothing more special than going out for a night of dining and drinking and walking into a restaurant to find yourself in a far away mystical place.
Royal India is in the Gaslamp. Upon entering, the gracious and attentive staff become your tour guides to this magical place, owned and operated by the award-winning Kambo brothers. Rated the best Indian restaurant the last five years in a row by San Diego Magazine, and rated one of the most romantic restaurants, Royal India is fit for the “royals” of our world.
It’s impossible to miss the awards that adorn the walls next to the hand-carved mahogany bar. Lone diners are welcome to sit at the bar and soak up some Indian culture and consume some very well mixed drinks.
The décor is, of course, imported from India and includes an indoor silent waterfall, crystal chandeliers and archways that are exact replicas of the Lal Qil’ah Fort Palace in New Delhi.
The cuisine is regional to the area of Punjab where you will find rich fertile valleys and fruit trees galore. This is the motherland of India.
Last Sunday, I dined at the Royal India with a group of friends.
The first items to reach the table were our beverages – hand-shaken works of art. The Mango Martini, made from imported Indian mangos, vodka with a lime and orange garnish. There is also no comparison to the Royal India Mojito. Indian sugar, cane rum, crushed mint and lime. It is by far the best I have ever tasted and I urge you to try one and compare it to your existing favorite.
Owner Sam Kambo suggested I try the Dal Shorba soup made from lentils, garlic, herbs and spices. The soup is delicious and a perfect way to start your meal.
Next on the menu were the vegetable samosas served with tamarind and cilantro mint chutney. You can compare it to a stuffed puff pastry, and it is the perfect item to split if you just want soup and a flavorful side.
Dinner consisted of Chicken Tikka Masala – clay roasted boneless chicken cooked in a silky tomato curry with herbs and spices. Very aromatic and rich in taste, $18.
My personal favorite is the Royal Lamb Malai made from lamb slow-cooked for more than eight hours in a clay pot, creamed curry, cashews, almond paste, nuts and raisins. This dish was originally reserved for Indian royalty or a Rani like myself, $21.
The next item to arrive was the Bengan Bhartha – eggplant roasted in a clay oven, cooked in onions, garlic, tomatoes and ginger, $15. This dish has a perfect flavor combination and is the number one choice by vegetarians.
If you have indulged in hot spicy curry I encourage you to try the Rusmalai soft Indian cheese made from boiling milk and by adding vinegar to the pot; the milk then becomes small balls of cheese which is then strained. The cheese balls are then placed back in to a mix of hot milk, pistachios and sugar syrup to infuse the flavors. The dish is served cold to cool off the tongue, hot from red curry and spices, $10. I plan to weasel the intricacies of the recipe for you in the future.
329 Market Street
San Diego, CA 92101
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