A group of 12 chowhounds had dinner at Shalimar last night, and we tried our best to eat through the menu. Since I owe Melanie, the latecomer, a chowdown report or two, I'll get this one started.
I'm a regular at Shalimar, so I've just listed the dishes we ordered below, along with a brief comment on how they compared to my previous visits, as Shalimar can have some consistency problems. I'll let my fellow diners describe each dish in more details. We mainly had beers that we brought in ourselves to drink, including a very interesting lineup of Belgian ales courtesy of Victoria.
1) Lamb chops ($9.95)
The most expensive item on the menu, you get 4 pieces per order. One of my favorite items, it was very good last night, as it almost always is.
2) Murgh Tikka Sultani ($3.50)
A whole chicken leg per order ($.50 more for breast instead), listed as Tikka Lahori on their website. This is probably the most consistent dish at Shalimar, I've never detected any variation from visit to visit.
3) Seekh Kabab Mughlai ($2.00)
A skewer of ground beef mixed with herbs and spices. This dish varies a bit across visits, last night's was the best version I've had yet.
4) Goat curry ($6?)
This is the Thursday night special, and I don't believe it's listed on any of their menus (you have to probe the counter guy to find out if it's available). They seem to use a couple of different recipes for this dish, this was the dry curry one, which is my favorite.
5) Bhuna Gosht ($5.95)
A relatively standard lamb curry, it was not as good as usual last night, as it needs to be simmered longer.
6) Murgh Korma Shahi ($5.95)
The chicken equivalent to the previous curry, it was very good.
7) Chicken Kofta ($5.95)
Chicken meatballs in a rich creamy curry, a very consistent dish.
8) Brain Masala ($6?)
A very dry curry of lamb brains, it's the first time I have this one, so no basis for comparison.
9) Nihari ($6?)
A braised beef curry, a bit like the Indian version of Boeuf Bourguignon. Another dish that seems to vary across visits, we had a very good version yesterday.
10) Haleem ($6?)
A curry consisting primarily of lentils, barley and wheat, with a little bit of chicken, it's slow cooked until all the ingredients blend together and has a thick puree consistency. Another consistent dish.
11) Palak Paneer ($4.95)
They usually alternate between this spinach and paneer (fresh cheese, almost tofu like in consistency) version and Palak Aloo, the spinach and potato version. They also have versions with chicken or lamb. Always a good choice, my favorite is the one with potato, but it wasn't available last night.
12) Daal Masala ($4.95)
Shalimar's version uses the larger yellow lentils, which are mostly left whole.
13) Mili Juli Sabzi ($4.95)
A curry of mixed vegetables, I didn't try any last night.
14) Aloo Paratha ($2)
Naan stuffed with a spicy potato puree.
15) Plain Naan ($1)
These can be inconsistent, but yesterday they were the best I've had yet at Shalimar. The trick, as Victoria pointed out, is to always order them in small batches throughout the meal, so that they are piping hot from the tandoor.
16) Chawal ($2)
I'm a fan of plain rice, and I find Shalimar's to have too many spices in it, so I almost never have any myself.
17) Kheer ($2)
A very sweet and milky rice pudding, the rice is coarsely ground to give this dessert a creamier consistency, almost like tapioca.
18) Gulab Jamum ($2)
Two pieces per order of deep fried balls (India's answer to donut holes) that are then soaked in syrup. Ask to have them warmed up a bit when you order them, as they taste better that way.
19) Carrot Halva ($2?)
They don't always have this one, it's a not very sweet carrot-based dessert.
We finished off the meal with a complementary cup of masala chai (Indian tea). My favorite dishes of the night were the seekh kabab, the goat curry and the naan.
For completeness, here are the dishes that we did not order yesterday:
- Tandoori Boti ($6.95)
Boneless cubes of beef marinated and grilled in the tandoor. The weakest tandoori dish in my opinion, the beef is usually dry as it's cooked too long. It might be worthwhile to try to order it medium once, if they allow that.
- Murgh Boti Tandoori ($6.95)
Boneless cubes of chicken grilled in the tandoor, this has similar spicing to the tandoori chicken that we ordered. Usually very good, often among the favorite dishes of people who prefer white meat.
- Seekh Kabab Murgh ($2.50)
Ground chicken skewer, this is a relatively new dish on their menu that I haven't tried yet. We should have ordered some yesterday, my apologies for forgetting to. And for ending my sentence with a preposition :-)
- Beef Jalfrezi ($5.95)
A pretty good curry with strips of beef and bell peppers. Probably the spiciest item they serve, another dish I forgot to order yesterday.
- Aloo Keema ($6?)
A simple but very tasty curry with ground beef and potatoes, it wasn't available last night.
- Chicken Tikka Masala ($6?)
Britain's contribution to Indian cuisine, Shalimar's rendition is pretty weak.
- Chicken Karahi ($6?)
Not on the menu, and I've only seen it a couple of times (you have to probe the counter guy, asking him what specials they have that night). I'm not sure if they still make this dish, but when they do it's quite good.
- Kabli chana ($4.95)
Chickpea curry, very similar to the Daal that we ordered.
- Bengun bhujia ($4.95)
A fairly standard eggplant curry, Shalimar's rendition uses too much cream and is not particulary good.
- Chicken Biryani ($7.00)
This dish is on and off the menu quite a bit, Shalimar's never done it very well. If you like Biryani, Naan-n-Curry probably makes the best one in town.
- Okra ($5?)
One of their best vegetarian dishes consisting of sauteed Okra (ladyfingers), it wasn't available last night.
- Black Eyed Beans ($5?)
Another of my favorite vegetable dishes, it's rarely available for some reason.