Friday, January 18, 2008
A couple nights ago my friend Matt and his wife Karla took me out for some delicious Indian and Pakistani cuisine on Indian row in the 'loin. I had heard high praise for Shalimar, as well as some cautionary tales (greasy, do not use the bathrooms, etc). It is definitely a no frills greasy spoon without any pretensions; I found the place to be clean, if sparsely and simply decorated. But it's not about the ambience, or for that matter the service here (we were given dishes we did not order twice, you need to pay attention and be vigilant as the plates start arriving!) It's about greedily eating some of the most authentic, perfectly seasoned Indian and Pakistani food around. Each place setting is provided with a 'Shalimar Times,' basically a four page tabloid printout explaining what Shalimar is about, with a menu on the inside. An excerpt states, "SHALIMAR'S CULINARY PHILOSOPHY: 'No substituions to fit the local tastes, no frills or nuevo cuisine, but sensible, genuine, tasty hearty and wholesome food.' In each guest we look forward to 'many happy returns.' " The interesting word usage and liberal smattering of quote marks makes for entertaining pre-meal reading.
On to the food. We ordered 3 types of flavored naan (onion, garlic, and spicy potato). All were flavorful and properly moist and chewy. Okra and tomatoes was delicious - rich and velvety fresh okra, piquant from the simmered tomatoes, and very savory and authentic from a liberal use of hing. Pureed eggplant (bengen bhujia) was tasty, with a good amount of onion and a strong cardamom seasoning which was the dominant flavor of this dish. Even better was the tandoori chicken (murgh boti tandoori), crisp and well seasoned with spices and vinegar. The standout dish, however, was saag gosht - a combination of tender braised lamb and spinach, with ginger, coriander, and a more mild blend of spices.
No wine to wash this food down. It's a BYOB and I was caught unprepared, no riesling on me and neighborhood shops are fine for tall boys of beer but that's about it. So it was all washed down with a Bass ale. Which was fine, even Riesling would have a tough time handling much of this food. I wholeheartedly reccommend Shalimar for folks who can deal with a slightly sketchy neighborhood, poor service and a slightly louder than usual blend of hip-hop and Bhangra. At Shalimar, it's all about the food.