Saturday, May 1, 2010
The Fearless Critic, my go-to source for Austin restaurant reviews, recently listed the Indian food truck G'Raj Mahal as the top-rated Indian food in Austin, above even my beloved Clay Pit. Needless to say, I had to try it.
Helen and I dropped in a few days ago, and friends, it was just perfect. Helen nailed it when, after our dinner, she said that it was the perfect blend of Austin and Indian food. So true. You can see in both pictures above that the dining area is flanked by an awesome bicycle-powered 80 foot snake. There's also a giant praying mantis closer to the truck. Why? I have no idea. But they, combined with the gypsy-like curtained pavilion and dreadlocked, tattooed waiters, give this place a magical, mystical Austin vibe. And on top of that, the food is incredible. To wit:
We started with the vegetable samosas packed with tender curried potatoes and peas, which came with three chutneys, all delicious. Helen favored that dark one in the top right, and I fell in love with whatever the hell that light green one is. I thought it would be mint-flavored, but it tasted more like coriander to me. Sorry for the lack of identification here- someone please enlighten me if you have any insights on these mystery chutneys!
Anyway, then the rest of our food came out. Here's the overhead shot:
Yes! We ordered a lot! We like to eat :) Here's what we had:
Aloo Gobi (curried potato and cauliflower). We love! Our waiter (yes, you do have a waiter- this is one classy food truck) asked how hot we wanted our curries and they were prepared to our request of medium. Anyway, this is Helen's favorite Indian dish, and she and I both adored this version.
This is Makhani, a buttery, tomato-y sauce that is similar to, but more delicate than Tikka Masala. We had it with chicken, but you had a choice of having the sauce with paneer, shrimp, or black lentils (!) too. I've made Murgh Makhani at home, from the terrific Fat cookbook, but G'Raj Mahal put mine to shame. So elegant.
Our last main, Malai Kofta, were vegetable dumplings simmered in curried cream. I had never heard of this, but it ended up being one of our favorites. The 'dumplings' weren't at all what I was expecting. They were tightly-packed, deep fried little veggie nuggets that reminded me more of falafel than the fluffy boiled biscuits I'm accustomed to. The curried cream sauce they were bathed in was my favorite, I think.
Lastly, the naan. Sweet lord, this was terrific. The naan was a fluffy, puffy delight that would have been extraordinary in it's own right, but those magnificent bastards painted the whole thing with ghee, Indian clarified butter. Yes. Yes. I could have eaten forty.
A note about when to go to G'Raj Mahal. Andy and I tried to go a week ago, but it was a Friday, around 8 pm. It was packed and there was a 45 minute wait. This place is around the corner from El Naranjo, so we went there instead. Helen and I went again on Wednesday around 6:45 and sat down and were served right away. So, if you're like me, go a bit earlier on a week night. If you're cool, on the other hand, hit this place up in the wee hours after a trip to Lustre Pearl.