Last night 28 of us descended onto the little Indian restaurant "Empress of India" in Santa Clara. We had requested a a special Bengali meal, instead of the more usual North Indian food, to try new flavors and a different regional cuisine.
We were also celebrating the birthdays of Melanie and Ruth our co hosts. The wine flowed freely and everybody had a good time, with people lingering on till quite late in the evening.
The dishes we had and the people reviewing them are as below,
Chana dal bhajia - Peter Yee
Potato and egg tikki - Alexandra
Fish curry in coconut milk - Roopa & Jay
Mixed vegetable - Cynthia
Bitter gourd (karela)- Malik
Moong dal (yellow lentils)- Ruth
Chicken curry - Mark
Tandoori Chicken - M. Charot
Plain boiled rice
Whole wheat tandoori roti
Mango chutney - Marc
Rasmalai - Shalini
The food was simple home cooking, though not very Bengali in my opinion. I think Jeanne (the owner) is most comfortable making North Indian food and is probably what she knows best. She was quite insistent that we must come back and try her North Indian cooking sometime.
I selected to review the rasmalai, the part of the meal I enjoyed the most. It is very difficult to get good rasmalai in the bay area. The paneer dumpling was soft, moist and juicy and floating in a rich milk sauce with saffron and pistachios. It wasn't too sweet. It is however not a regular item on the menu. They make it only on special order for large parties or catering orders.
The overall tab per person came to $44 per person, including the regular price of $30 per person for a non vegetarian meal, an additional $3.50 per person for each piece of rasmalai for dessert and a one time corkage of $50 (a very good bargain) for the innumerable bottles of wine we tasted and enjoyed throughout the evening.