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Darbar Report

Liz | Jan 30, 200506:03 PM

I'd like to thank the chowhounds for leading me to Darbar yesterday evening. My companions and I had a very nice meal. After assiduously studying the chowdown notes I stopped by a couple of days earlier to request a special order of the Makke ki Roti and was delighted when the proprietress agreed to have the kitchen make it for only three of us.

They don't have a liquor license so my husband walked down the block to buy a few beers. Used to the Shalimar/Naan 'n' Curry treatment he was stumped when he couldn't find glasses on his own. Once I suggested he ask the waiter for them the glasses came promptly.

We ordered:

Chapli Kebab (2 orders): pan-fried patties of minced meat with lentils and spices
Tandoori Prawns
Sarson ka Saag: Mustard green and spinach curry
Achar Gosht: lamb curry with mango pickles
Karahi Chicken: chicken cooked with tomatoes and cilantro
Makke ki Roti: cornmeal-based roti

We requested medium spiciness and were happy with the spicing of all the dishes.

Great points:
The Chapli Kebab, Sarson ka Saag, and Achar Gosht were unanimously judged to be excellent. Our Punjabi friend Rupe said he had never seen a dish like Chapli Kebab before, proclaimed the Sarson ka Saag the best saag he had ever eaten (and explained that while it seems a simple dish it is time-consuming and difficult to make), and really liked the Achar Gosht. I thought the mango pickle in the lamb curry was a really nice touch. The Sarson ka Saag was extraordinarily rich, especially for a vegetarian dish. Lots of ghee in evidence.

Contentious points:
My husband and I both loved the Makke ki Roti. Rupe didn't. He feels that it's an inferior type of bread that you'd make at home in India only out of necessity for lack of a tandoor.
The Tandoori Prawns were tasty but nothing much out of the ordinary. I appreciated the fact that they weren't overcooked
The Karahi Chicken was delicious, but according to Rupe nothing like authentic Karahi Chicken. He felt this version had so much sauce it was more like a curry.
Service was on the whole good. Orders of magnitude better than at places like Shalimar or even Chutney. The only bad point was that water glasses and teacups were not refilled in a timely fashion.

Bad Points:
The Naan was doughy and not very good, though Rupe did prefer it to the Makke ki Roti.
The tea tasted like run-of-the-mill American black tea (aka English Breakfast) with cream. No cardamom or other spices were added. I appreciated the fact that it came without added sugar, though sugar was brought to the table.

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