Some perfect days come in the form of playing Scrabble against a tough opponent while the rain goes on outside under the cheery sun. Rain and sun and Scrabble… and today our food-day included Rajdoot too! A warning note to all you readers: This is my first time at an Indian restaurant and I have had very little experience with Indian food in general, so I had no preconceptions about Indian cooking before going.
Rajdoot does a good job at the very first impression. J and I really enjoyed the delicious smells and the atmosphere of the restaurant. Everything, from the colourful tablecloths to the curtains hanging in the window to the burnished jugs sitting on one wall by the windows gives one the feeling that an ethnic experience is imminent.
The Groupon that we were using for this occasion actually dictated a set meal, which in my opinion was actually better because I really wouldn’t have known what to order. Service was fairly quick and efficient; soon after they realized we were following a preset menu and had taken our orders, we were greeted by the very welcome appetizer.
We had absolutely no idea what was on it, save for the samosa. Apparently it was an appetizer sampler, and only by looking at the menu online am I able to tell now what it was that we ate. There was a piece of papadam (tandoori roasted spicy crispy flatbread), one beef samosa and one vegetable pakoras (apparently a marinated cauliflower, onion and potato fritter). The dish came with what we thought was a garnish of a cucumber slice and lettuce, and also three small dishes of sauces.
Herein lays probably J’s/my biggest criticism of the restaurant: we had no idea how to eat the food and they didn’t tell us how. Rarely do I go to ethnic restaurants other than Chinese and Italian, but those are fairly straightforward. No worries though; J and I thoroughly enjoyed the different tastes of each one. J figured out soon enough that the cucumber/lettuce was more to stave off the heat of each food item. I ate the fritter first and it was really heavy with not too much taste, so it was only afterward that I learned to put sauces on the rest of my food.
The sauces were also really good; the bright red one was a chili-type sauce with white onions chopped in, the darker one a sweet plum-like sauce (but still very thin) and I think the third one was a mint relish. Again, I didn’t quite know how to eat them so I ended up getting a little messy what with dripping sauce onto the various foods to eat it. Nevertheless ‘twas all quite tasty and a good start to the meal.
The entrée came very quickly afterward. Going clockwise from the bottom left, there was: shredded cucumber/lettuce, Channa Chandi Chowk (New Delhi style garbanzo curry), Dahi Raita (homemade yoghurt with cucumbers, carrots and mixed spices), Gosht-E-Allu (sautéed spicy potato curry with meat; J had lamb and I had beef) and a side of Allu Gobi (cauliflower and potatoes cooked in a dry curry). There was also basmati rice and a basket of naan bread, which I eyed skeptically because I didn’t know if it’d be enough.
Since we wanted to eat properly (and didn’t know exactly what to do with the many dishes, the rice and the bread) we finally Googled “how to eat a traditional indian meal.” It seems eating with the left hand is taboo, and the naan bread is useful for scooping up sauce, so off we went. To my readers, I really do apologize if there was anything else that we missed.
At any rate: YUM. The food was so, so delicious. I never knew there could be so many distinct variations on curry. J and I enjoyed the fact that our meat curry had distinct tastes compared to each other. Everything, from the appetizer to the main entrée, had a bit of heat to it but the cucumbers really helped to stave off the heat so that we could enjoy the well-spiced foods. J didn’t care much for the dahi raita but I realized that it served really well as a palate cleanser in between bites of curry, rice and naan bread.
Eating with only one hand also meant that we ate at a much slower pace than usual. Only the right hand could be used even when ripping off small bits of naan bread, so our eating process went something like: rip, scoop, eat, pick up spoon, eat rice/sauce, put down spoon, rip more bread, etc. I appreciated the fact that the style of eating forced us to concentrate on and really enjoy each bite of food; so much so, in fact, that I over ate. This is really rare, as I’m the type to pack up food once I feel slightly full, but the food was so good that I couldn’t stop eating. So so good.
We finally finished the meal and chose our dessert options. Oh nom.
Both the mango kulfi (ice cream) and kheer (rice pudding) were the perfect finish to the evening. Neither of them was very sweet but they cooled down the mouth wonderfully. The kheer in particular was deliciously aromatic.
A final note: the presentation of the meal overall wasn’t great, being mostly in plain dishes or flat metal pressed pans. J pointed out that the trays were really practical and economical. What the meal lacked for in presentation, however, was well made up in terms of quantity and quality (I haven’t been so full in so long).
2424 – 4th Street SW
Calgary, AB T2S 2T4
Pros: Service was quick and food was good. Not steaming hot, but good. We experienced a ton of new foods and they all left very good first impressions. I have to note that this was the first restaurant where there was absolutely no hassle when we made a reservation with a Groupon. Presentation was practical, not snobby or overly fussy and the food made up for the presentation. The restaurant’s atmosphere was alright too; we ate in relative comfort, but…
Cons: … we had no idea how to eat everything at first. There were also no questions on whether or not we would be able to handle the spice level; we were never bothered by it but I think this shows a little inconsideration on their part for first-time customers. Their service was lacking in this regard. At regular price our meal would have cost $51.70; I find that a little pricey for my taste, even if the food is rather tasty.
I might come here again if there’s another Groupon (I balk at price, really) but I’ll be sure to do some Googling well beforehand.
May all your spices stay fresh!