Sunday afternoon and I have had my morning spiritual fill. After church, it was then time for part two of my filling — some food from one of Chicago’s finest. Having had a former room mate call me out for having our past condominium smelling like Indian food on a regular basis, I wanted to return to the source of the scents that kept our rather large living space smelling so flavourful. It also meant me returning to Hyde Park for the second time this month and that was a rarity because it has been years since I was in Hyde Park with any great frequency. But it was for some Indian food this time and, well, the trip was well worth it.
Rajun Cajun at 1459 E. 53rd Street was my destination. When I lived in Hyde Park, Rajun Cajun was a regular stop for me after work and sometimes on the weekends. The vegetarian dishes were the best that you could get in Chicago south of downtown. Otherwise, you had to go all the way to the North Side to Devon Avenue for the vast array of Indian food in the city. Cook with a flare of Tanzania in the food — the Indian owners and cooks are from Tanzania — and with a perfect amount of spices, I had become a constant and one who showed no shame in ordering several vegetarian dishes and a bag full of samosas for take-away. After having been gone away for so long, it was super getting back in to lengthy conversation with the owners and the others who worked there when I passed through every week.
Today I wanted to enjoy a bit of Hyde Park without rushing back to my Wonderland of Logan Square, so I placed my order for sit-down. Chana masala. Saag paneer. Basmati rice. Paratha. Samosa. The chana masala was always one of my favourites when I used to go to Rajun Cajun years ago. Prepared without any salt — the palate can tell when salt has been used rather heavily — and peppered with a fair amount of spices, those chickpeas swimming around in that tasty gravy went down the waterfall of my throat while I smiled a thin smile. The saag paneer was creamier than any saag paneer that I have had before and let me be the first to say that the creamed spinach with the cubed cheese really was a plus to the vegetarian plate. The basmati rice was the usual perfection and was even more perfect when eaten with the two vegetarian sides. Add to that the paratha, which is flat Indian bread, and a lip-smacking samosa, my Sunday afternoon was complete. And not to just have spicy food only, I drank a ginger root beverage. Ginger root in pineapple juice had a good burn to it. My stomach was satisfied on multiple levels with each swallow.
Rajun Cajun is a rather small eatery and the food is more along the lines of street food. The prices fit the budget for the countless University of Chicago students who frequent the restaurant. For those of us with deep pockets, it is the epitome of a Top 10, Highly Recommended place to get your fill. And if Indian food is not your thing, you can also have some soul food — macaroni and cheese, collard greens, fried chicken, black-eyed peas, and yams. I have not had any soul food from there since I get my spiritual fill on Sunday for my soul. But I will tell you this much: hiccup. (Pause) I guess that says it all.