I’ll eat just about anything. If for nothing else to try something new. It’s why, when asked what my favorite cuisine is, I have such a hard time answering. I love food and I love when food is prepared the right way. But for whatever reason I have never loved Indian food. I’m not at all adverse to it but it would never be one of my top choices. It’s interesting because based off of a description I should love Indian food. The bold flavors, the depth in spice and heat, and certainly a large variety. I always thought, if I gave it another chance it would win me over, but it never happened.
That was until I went to Raj Mahal. This post is well overdue mainly because I first ate there close to two years ago. However, just last week we gathered at Raj Mahal for a farewell party for our friend Nikki who would be traveling in Europe for a few months. Nikki used to live in the east village and this was one of her favorites. How she found this particular spot amongst the sea of Indian restaurants lining East 6th street between 1st and 2nd I’m not sure but I’m certainly glad she did.
When you step down into the restaurant your welcomed by warm light exuded from chile pepper string lights. Live music is playing and the aroma takes you over. Having come here before with a crowd I wasn’t expecting a problem but our reservation of 17 could give just about any restaurant a fit. Not Raj Mahal. Our waiter, handled the crowd with ease and rather than creating a mass confusion, offered to create a sampler of appetizers and breads for the table. This turned out perfectly as everyone got to taste a bit of everything.
This last point is a piece of the puzzle I had been missing the first few times I tried Indian food. I always got bored of having my own dish. Probably because the flavors are so bold, it is better to share. And share we did. With dishes passing back and forth and the silencing of once fervent conversation, we ate just about everything. The food is really great. Whether it was the Spicy Lam Bhona or the wonderfully rich Sag Paneer getting to try a bit of everyone’s not only makes the food more enjoyable but it adds to the experience on the whole.
Raj Mahal is one of those rare places that seems to care more about their customers then their pockets. I rarely bring up prices because I don’t believe it should matter but for less than twenty dollars a person we were treated to a feast. Granted it is a BYOB but that is still an unbelievable price for the amount of eating and celebrating we accomplished. Not to mention it’s becoming tougher and tougher to find BYOs and even rarer to find one with good food at these prices. Whether you love Indian food or still remain a bit hesitant I urge you to try Raj Mahal. 9/10
On a side note I hope to post a few pictures that Nikki is going to send back from her travels. I hope to get inspired by her stories and descriptions of all the great meals she’ll have. In the mean time, if you need any inspiration and are looking for some art to fill your house or tiny apartment, take a look at Nikki’s collection.
Photo taken by Brendan McCauley