Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taj Mahal (Part 2)

(Original Review -- May 2011)

Good grief, I hadn't been here in about a year?! Anyway, I returned to Taj Mahal Indian Restaurant in mid-April for their lunch buffet. While I didn't arrive extremely hungry, I certainly wanted to get my money's worth on this all-you-can-eat Indian extravaganza.

I didn't realize spicy pandas get such strong Indian lunch buffet cravings.

I was their first customer of the day, walking in just a bit after 11 a.m. on a Monday. No more than two steps inside, one of the employees greeted me with a heartwarming smile.

I filled up on salad (OK, it's just iceberg lettuce and cucumbers), cantaloupe, oranges, and grapes. I may have had a meal of titanic proportions, but at least I can say I kept it well-balanced! Admittedly, by the fifth dish, my spicy panda side erupted a bit more, and I started putting the sambal on the fruit. It still tasted good to me. I guess I have a tiny spice addiction....

Yup, sambal on the fruit as well!
Each day brings two vegetarian options, two meat options (well, it's probably chicken), and Tandoori chicken. You'll also have naan, a couple of soups, and dessert.

I bypassed the naan this time, but tried their chicken soup. Well, it was labeled chicken soup, anyway. A much redder color than I imagined a chicken soup would have. It was good, but not totally heated yet. Guess I should have waited a little longer for that.

Was this really their chicken soup? Looks excessively red....
Yup, I had both vegetarian options. First, a cooked cabbage dish with potatoes and tomatoes, seasoned with Indian spices. It simmered in what was probably vegetable stock. I honestly couldn't stop eating that entree. The veggies all broke down very well, and eating a bunch of it should fill you up.

The other vegetarian dish, Dal Makhni was a lentil and kidney bean dish seasoned with various herbs. Quite delicious. Lentils and beans were perfectly cooked, having just enough bite so it's not all "WTF mushy." I didn't think I'd be eating lentils, but lo and behold, pandas eat them! Perhaps this dish could have been just a bit thicker.

The chicken dishes were all delicious. The chicken saag was my favorite. If Popeye had Indian blood in him, he may have eaten this on a more consistent basis. Such a soothing array of Indian spices in this creamy brown sauce.

Chicken Jalfrezi is really chicken and vegetables in a gravy-like orange sauce. It is more a tomato-based sauce; turmeric and cumin help create that orange color. I've also seen pictures and recipes that feature this dish with a dark red sauce. Again, very hearty and flavorful. They have really mastered cooking vegetables in all their entrees.

Tandoori chicken = win. I don't think I need to say much more than that. OK, fine: vintage magenta-colored chicken exterior!

The only time I used a larger plate
Tandoori chicken in the front!

This was my ninth and final plate...stuffed panda!
The rice pudding was fairly standard, yet very good. Each grain of rice maintained its noticeable texture and identity, even among the sweet creamy sea. I still think it would have been nice to have a separate side cart of toppings to customize the dessert to one's own tastes a bit more.

Rice pudding
I stopped at nine plates. I wanted to stay longer, but I guess I need to better train my stomach capacity.

Plates 4-7 all finished off!
Despite the lukewarm soup and the rather-plain rice pudding (as in I didn't see anything nearby to top it with), this is certainly one of the better buffets I've been to. At $7.95, hungry patrons should be able to get their money's worth here. Some of the entrees may change depending on the day you go. I wish they had more seafood or lamb dishes at lunch. Check this place out! 7.5/10

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