Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mughal Garden

Since I am going to London later this week, I figured I'd hel prepare by sampling the national cuisine of England for dinner: Indian food. I know, that was too easy. True, traditional British cooking is coming back into its own, but most authorities I have read agree that it's still much easier to find edible Indian food in London than British food, or at least anything more than fish and chips. And most fish and chips in our country comes with that most English of delicacies, hush puppies. Yep, that was sarcasm, too. Not wanting to load my system with a 1,600 calorie dinner from Long John Silver's (complete with 22 grams of trans fats for a two-fish, 1-chicken dinner with clams, fries, hush puppies, cole slaw and "crumblies"), I opted for Indian.

Mughal Garden was my ultimate destination. I almost went to Minato, a sushi place I like downtown (about which I've posted before), because I found parking right across the street. But I wanted Indian, so I kept going.

Here's the rundown. Everywhere I went was not too crowded, but I think that's due to the holiday season because everywhere I went afterwards - the movies, the local bars - was quite empty. It made for a much shorter wait, but Mughal Garden has never kept me waiting that long. Of course, mostly I just eat their wonderful buffet, the best Indian buffet in the area, in my opinion (for a slightly different one, try the Nepalese buffet across the street at Kumari). Disappointed that they don't offer murgh makhani, or butter chicken. But my long-time fave has to be saag gosht, or lamb spinach, and most places have this, including Mughal Garden. I ordered the saag gosht with a side of garlic naan and a strawberry lassi. The waiter brought out some complimentary papadums (thin lentil wafers) with an assortment of chutneys. The coriander and tamarind chutneys are standards, but there was also a sort of onion relish that I've seen at some Indian places, and the one here was pretty good. I spooned on the relish like it was salsa. I would have scooped it up were it not for the size of the onio relish bowl and the brittleness of the averge papadum.

Then my main dishes came. The saag gosht was quite good, though I wasn't blown away by the garlic naan at all. It was nice and warm, but unless you like the flavor of plain naan, don't get this one. You don't taste the garlic much, and there was visible garlic in it, so I do not know how the chef managed that. But the saag gosht was good, and the lamb was amazingly tender. I could break it up with my fork! Maybe that does not astound y'all, but I have rarely found lamb that tender when I eat this dish. With a little salt, the flavor really came out! Salt does that to food, just as Alton Brown pointed out once: it makes food taste more like itself for some reason, in the right quantity. I also enjoyed the lassi, though I tasted absolutely no rose water, which was supposed to be in it. I smelled a little, but the flavor of it just didn't come out.

Still recovering fromt he stomach flu, I didn't want to eat too much, so I boxed about half my dinner and was done. Most people would've polished it all off in one sitting I suppose. The bill came to $20, not cheap but reasonable. Though what concerns me about London is this: when I think of "cheap" I stop at $10. But where my cheap ends is where their cheap starts! I probably won't find anything much cheaper than £10, or $20! I guess I'll just be eating out less.

* An afterthought: I love hush puppies, but I was surprised to find on LJS's website that a serving of hush puppies was only 60 calories! I thought: wow, 4 hush puppies for only 60 calories!? It then dawned on me: that's for one hush puppy.