Was heading downtown from Skokie on Sunday afternoon & made a quick detour to Devon to run a couple of errands & pick up dinner & noticed the following:
Drove by a new store at the west end of the Indian strip called Ambala. The logo looked exactly like the Ambala sweet stores in London my parents used to take me too when I was a child - turns out this is the same chain & is Ambala's first store in the US. Ambala has a website with details of the various offerings (ambalafoods.com). If the quality is the same as in the UK this is a definate place to check out. I am particularly curious to know if they are making the sweets here or shipping them from the UK.
Picked up dinner from Bhabi's Kitchen (on Oakley?). The owner, Mr Syed, was as chatty as ever & proudly showing off a photo of Alpana Singh who had eaten there recently with a group & had reservations for that evening. The food is all cooked to order by Mrs. Syed (i.e. the Bhabi of the name) & took about 30 mins to prepare. I took home chicken boti & a couple of enormous parantas (potato & cauliflower). All wonderful - but note that the veg stuffings for the paranthas are pretty spicy (i.e. chopped whole chilis in the cauliflower, potato was milder) & while the chicken was perfectly done to my (indian) taste, I know from experience that american friends would consider it a bit over cooked & salty.
When picking up groceries noticed that one of the sweet shops had changed name & been renovated. I think this was previously Ujala, now called "Zam-Zam" (or Zum-Zum, I forget) & stopped in out of curiousity. The waitstaff is the same & told me that the previous owners recently sold the business. It wasn't clear if there was a new sweet maker, but the selection offered was a little different. I took home a couple of samples of the sweets - the kala jamun & chum-chum (which were colored pretty pastel colors rather than the flourescent yellows & green more usual). Both were excellent - absolutely fresh & a little less sweet than usual. The kala jamun also had a distinct ghee flavor. Interestingly, the new shop now also carries various cream pastries. I only noticed these on the way out, but plan on going back to see if they have indian-style pineapple cake.