Best of Flagstaff 2018
Written by Gail G. Collins
One of the seven wonders of the world stands in brilliant marble in Agra, India. The Taj Mahal is an UNESCO world heritage site, which took more than two decades to build. It hosts several million visitors annually, and a practicing mosque onsite is closed on Fridays.
Delhi Palace Cuisine of India, on the other hand, has been described as a “hidden gem” and is open seven days a week. The restaurant, tucked in its new, roomier location in the Hilltop Shops at Woodlands Village, closed for only a few days to make its move. The back wall boasts a spectacular painting of the Taj Mahal with linear perspective beckoning diners to enter. That is, if the scent of spices hadn’t drawn you in first. Either way, guests will explore a heady feast at Delhi Palace.
Northern Indian food is on the menu. A plethora of vegetables, fruits, grains and spices makes the cuisine vibrant and flavorful. Relative to southern dishes, the recipes are richer, with gravies made with ghee (clarified butter) or steeped in cream. Many dishes take hours to prepare. The spices used to create the staple garam masala, meaning warm mixture, are robust and earthy. Crushing and blending cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and more create pungent plates of curry begging to be mopped up with warm naan bread.
Classic curries are popular. Lamb korma features marinated, boneless lamb, cooked in yogurt with cashews and delicate herbs and spices. Chicken tikka masala smothers boneless tandoori chicken in tomato and butter sauce. The tandoori is a clay vessel, heated with mesquite charcoal to 360 to 400 degrees for cooking anything from shrimp to mixed grill and even paneer, a fresh cheese. Think of it as ancient, aromatic barbecue.
The expansive list of a la carte dishes contains chicken, lamb, vegetable and seafood options. There are many vegan and gluten-free choices as well, such as vegetable biryani with basmati rice and garden fresh produce cooked with nuts, herbs and seasoning, or chana masala, garbanzo beans with ginger in spiced cream. Request spicy or mild heat as desired. Catering is available for pick-up or set-up and delivery.
The luncheon buffet is fast and fabulous at only $8.95. The sprawling buffet holds 30 items with meat and veg curry dishes that rotate daily. The Sunday Champagne Brunch is slightly more. They include salad, rice and lentil standards plus dessert. Northern Indians love dairy, so the sweeties include kheer, arice pudding; gulab jamun, cheese balls in scented, light syrup; and kulfi, mango or pistachio Indian-style ice cream. All dishes are homemade, and Ramesh Gauchan, owner since 2011, lends his long term expertise in the kitchen.
All of this explains Delhi Palace’s third award as Best Indian Food in Flagstaff. “We aim to make everyone happy,” said manager Bikash Baral. “Whatever we can do, we do from our hearts.” Tourists and locals frequent Delhi Palace, including native Indian diners. Many regulars tuck in three times a week. “We have a home kitchen offering a good deal and good service.” AZDailySun
2500 S. Woodlands Village Blvd., #8