Following VI's dictum to eat east of western on devon we went yesterday for lunch and desserts.
Hema's Kitchen seems to get a lot of pub and I've never really understood why but a couple of friends of ours have spoken highly about it so I thought i'd give it another shot. It's very small, on Oakley just north of Devon. The staff consists of in entirety Hema (managing the kitchen and taking orders) and two helpers (to whom she speaks entirely in spanish). Heam is hyderabadi but there is really isn't much evidence of that on the menu though if you avoid the obvious candidates you can get food that's pretty homestyle- though not necessarily the best representative of that. The dal dakni was pretty good, but the alu bangan (eggplant & potatos) featured potatos that were pretty underdone, ditto on the channa. Shami kabob (which is minced lamb and lentils) was interesting in that is was lightly battered (unusual) and then fried. Biryani was ok, lamb was good, but I thought the rice could have been better.
Haarry V, be forwarned - there is no atmosphere to speak of, and Hema has her grandkids running around 12 hours of each day. All in all, I find the food fairly average for the devon spots though I'd like to see Heam succeed as she is a pretty sweet individual. But if you want to fell like you are eating in someone's home this is the place for you (complete with having to walk through the kitchen to go to the restroom). It is not a buffet place.
note to any north indians who may be reading along:
Hema's nomenclature is a little different so what is labeled puri on the menu are grilled and what are most often referred to as poori are on their as phulka.
Afterwards we strolled down to Tahoora Sweets for dessert. This place was highlighted by Monica Eng for their halwa puri (http://www.metromix.com/top/1,1419,M-...) but what I liked most about what we sampled yesterday was the kalakhand. Kalakhand is kinda the "base" burfi (indian sweet you'll see in myriad colors and flavors at all sweet shops, made with evaporated milk), it's a little more crumbly and moist than the colorful squares of burfi around and Tahoora's is a lot less sweet than most places' version - I liked it quite a bit. We also tried their kulfi (served popsicle style) and ras malai but found those a lot more average. The kalakhand is in the sweet counter towards the end cosest the door in the second shelf - it's creamy white in color. The halwa actually didn't look all that great to me - looked like it had made quite a bit in advance and was more solid than it should be - though it was late in the day. BTW Indian sweets are as a rule pretty sweet, they are made to be eaten as accompaniment to chai which lessens their sweetness.
Tahoora also has a full line of snacks for eat-in or takeout including such items a s a very large bun kabob sanwich (it's the sandwich pictured in the on-line menu p.3 linked) as well as chicken-tikka pizza
One other interesting thing I noticed. Across the street from hema's is a place that is either "BBQ Tonight" or khan's restaurant. Their sign singles out eight items specifically:
flying saucer (?)
Tahoora Sweets and Cafe
2326 W. Devon Ave.
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. - Sat & Sun 9 a.m. to 10 p.m
6406 N. Oakley Ave., Chicago
Khan BBQ/Bar B Que Tonight
2262 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60659
Phone: (773) 465-6665