Friday, March 30, 2012
Simply called Taj, this amazing Indian restaurant is located near Wal-Mart, at 310 S. Walton Blvd., in Bentonville. It’s in an orange building, so you can’t miss it. Very quickly, this is what fans of Indian food in Northwest Arkansas have been waiting for: authentic Indian food prepared fresh, and served in a pleasing atmosphere. The vegan and vegetarian options are abundant. Whether eating off the menu, or the buffet, expect to pay about $14-$15/person with the tip. And yes they even have delivery.
My wife and I both love Indian food, which we realize is not the case with everyone. Until the last couple years, Indian restaurants have been almost non-existent in Northwest Arkansas and even Southern Missouri. And the ones that have existed have been so pathetic as to not deserve comment. So it is with a sense of relief that we look at the Urbanspoon reviews for Taj one day and see that they are 95% positive. It’s hard to get a score that high on Urbanspoon without being very, very good.
We first tried Taj on my birthday, when we were prepared to order off the menu and spend a little money. We started with the samosas for an appetizer, along with tomato and cilantro chutney dipping sauces. A samosa is a triangular pastry filled with potatoes, onions, peas, coriander and lentils. They can also be made with chicken or lamb, but they are generally meatless appetizers at Indian restaurants. Here they are very tasty. We are impressed. We have had samosas many times, and view them as a harbinger of the quality we can expect from the main course.
For the main course, I get the Mattar Paneer (Indian style cheese and peas in sauce) and my wife orders the Butter Chicken. We both order our dishes medium hot (3 on a scale of 1 to 5). Mine is spicier than I would ideally prefer, but my wife loves hers. I will try a spicy of 2 next time, since I do like my food a bit spicy. Since we are treating ourselves, we decide to order our meals “Thali” style, which is to say with an assortment of smaller accompanying dishes to make a complete meal. You receive rice, dal (yellow lentils in sauce), sambhar (soup), papad (chips), cucumber raita (a cool dipping sauce), the dessert of the day and the curry of your choice. Everything is very good, but we end up taking so much home! If you don’t want so much food, you can order your meal “a la carte.” Here this means that you receive only the entrée, and a serving of rice. Whichever you prefer, order the Naan bread. It’s only $1.50, and makes an amazing compliment to virtually any Indian meal. If you want to make things a bit more interesting, try the Onion/Paneer Kulcha—fresh Naan stuffed with onion and grated paneer (Indian style cheese).
We did try the buffet on Saturday noon, and it was amazing. In fact, I think we preferred this to the meal we had. I can’t identify all the dishes on the buffet, but there are several vegan and vegetarian options. One can sample a little of many types of sauces and curries over rice, until finding just the right combination. I know that we had Dal (yellow lentils in sauce).Of course, there is all the Naan bread you can eat, as well as dessert.