Before I met Jon I was a sheltered eater. I grew up in a small town in northern Illinois, and family meals consisted of stew made in the Crockpot, roast beef, pork chops and mashed potatoes. When she was feeling adventurous, my mom occasionally prepared Polish sausage or lasagna. The only restaurant in my hometown was an Italian Dari-ette that also served pizza. Jon, on the other hand, grew up in the Chicago suburbs surrounded by a wide variety of ethnic restaurants.
I will never forget the first time he introduced me to Indian food. He had come to visit me at college for the weekend, and we were on our way to the train so he could make the trek back to Indiana. We stopped at his favorite Indian restaurant in Oak Park, Illinois. My love affair with Indian food began that evening. The rich smells, vibrant colors and the intense flavors – the entire experience filled me up. I had never had anything like it, and I couldn’t wait to have more. I wanted to try everything on the menu.
Two years later, when I finally joined Jon as an Indiana resident, we were pleasantly surprised to discover amazing Indian cuisine at Taj Mahal, located on West Jefferson in Coventry Plaza. Our favorite thing about Taj is the buffet, offered every day at lunchtime. We love it because we can never choose which dish to eat, and this allows us to sample a wide variety. It’s also a good option for those who have never had Indian food. You can try a little bit of everything to determine whether or not it’s for you.
After years of sampling, I’ve landed on a favorite dish, paneer masala, a rich dish made with Indian cheese and a creamy tomato-based sauce. Jon is a fan of saag, a spinach- and mustard leaf-based curry dish made with either cheese, lamb, chicken, beef or shrimp. Most dishes are served with basamati rice and naan, leavened, oven-baked flat bread. You can order your dish mild, medium or spicy. My tastes are more delicate, so I always order mild, which still has a slight kick. Jon orders his medium and spices it up with Indian pickles or onion chutney. Other favorites include tandoori chicken, smoky marinated chicken legs and thighs; samosas, a fried savory pastry filled with spiced potatoes, onions, peas and lentils; and chana masala, a chickpea and curry dish.
If you opt for the buffet, I encourage you to sample every dish. Indian food is well known for its rich and flavorful sauces, and you may elect to eat them over rice or with naan. Not every dish has curry in it (a common misconception among folks who have never tried Indian food), and they all differ greatly in texture, flavor and ingredients. And be sure to save room for dessert. Jon and I love the gulab jamun, a cheese-based dessert similar to a dumpling, often soaked in light syrup. We eat ours in the rice pudding. After a spicy meal, the cool of the rice pudding coupled with the sweet, soft galub jamun is nothing short of perfect.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about lassi, a soothing yogurt drink similar to a smoothie, available in strawberry or mango. Taj Mahal also has a mango milkshake on the menu that is worth a try.
Taj Mahal is located at 6410 W. Jefferson Blvd. It is open 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Sunday. It’s closed on Tuesdays.
by Amber Recker
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Josh Johnson — Comedy at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., $10, (260) 456-7005
Vince Gill — Country at Embassy Theatre, Fort Wayne, 7 p.m., $39.50-$79.50, 424-5665
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Community Orchestra — Mussorsky's Pictures at an Exhibition at Auer Performance Hall, Rhinehart Music Center, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 7:30 p.m., $4-$7, 481-6555
Open Mic Night — Variety at Checkerz Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 7-10 p.m., no cover, 489-0286
Scratch N Sniff 2.0 w/1/4 Kit Kurt — Variety at Deer Park Irish Pub, Fort Wayne, 6:30-8 p.m., no cover, 432-8966
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Fort Wayne Karaoke — Karaoke at Latch String Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 483-5526
Fort Wayne Karaoke w/TJ — Variety at Office Tavern, Fort Wayne, 9 p.m., no cover, 478-5827
Three Rivers Karaoke w/Rob — at Wrigley Field Bar & Grill, Fort Wayne, 10 p.m., no cover, 485-1038
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41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Fort Wayne Artist Guild Exhibitions — Works by Alice Siefert at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Jennifer Caudel at Allen County Retinal Surgeons, Anita Trick, Citizens Square (2nd and 3rd floors), Darlene Selzer Miller at The Einhaus Group for Women’s Health, Patricia Weiss at Heritage of Fort Wayne, Emily Jane Butler at Ophthalmology Consultants (Southwest), Linda Binek at Ophthalmology Consultants (North), Carolyn Stachera at Rehabilitation Hospital of Fort Wayne, John Kelty at ResCare Inc. Adult Day Service, Wiletta Blevins at Town House Retirement, Karen Bixler at Visiting Nurse Hospice and Barb Yoder and Karen Harvey at Will Jewelers, thru April 30, fortwayneartistguild.org.
Glass: A Medium in Art and Automobiles — Dale Chihuly blown glass and fiberglass auto, daily thru Sept. 8, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, Auburn, $7.50-$12.50, 925-1444
Outdoor Sculpture Invitational — Fifteen outdoor sculptures from regional artists, daily thru April 30, School of Creative Arts campus, University of Saint Francis North Campus, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
Rhoda Gerig: The Hope of Eagles — Photographic images of eagles, daily thru June 4, Clark Gallery, Honeywell Center, Wabash, 563-1102
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Exhibition of works by IPFW graduation seniors, daily thru May 3 , Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, Main Library, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, 481-6709
Spring 2017 BFA Exhibition — Senior thesis projects from Bachelor of Fine Arts candidates Brenda Drayer (sculpture), Derek Hibbs (printmaking), Ellen Mensch (painting), Nathaniel Morris (sculpture) and Kyle Snodgrass (sculpture), daily thru May 7, Visual Arts Gallery, IPFW, Fort Wayne, 481-6709