Chicago Curry House
Chicago has become a victim to receiving a blizzard or a threat of one every other Friday. Why the weather waits until Friday to dump several inches of snow on the city somehow escapes me. Whatever patterns in the weather that has Mother Nature showing us her works still is not enough to keep me from going to an eatery to satisfy my appetite. The commute home from the suburbs was a pleasant one since I had plans to meet some friends not far from where I worked. A few hours stuffing my face before continuing on home with roads being rather sparse with traffic was a good option. To pander to my hunger, we met at an Indian restaurant. There was no way that we could go wrong having Indian food. And then during conversation, I looked at the calendar on my cell phone and noticed that I had a personal appointment for lunch at another Indian restaurant the following Saturday. Lovely, I thought to myself.
Saturday morning came when I heard a snow blower whirring and making noise. Slowly I gazed out the window and saw the most magnificent blue the sky could present. And my cell phone alarm went off to prompt me that I was going for lunch at an Indian restaurant in Chicago’s South Loop. Knowing that it was bitter outside, I dressed appropriately, got my gear, headed for the car, and was on my way to my destination. Smiling because my Volkswagen Jetta had enough gas and that meant I did not have to make any intermediate stops to get out in the cold to pump gas, I was on my way to Chicago Curry House at 899 S. Plymouth Court.
Upon entry, the spacious restaurant was absent of any patrons. I have a feeling that may be because it is not in a location that is visible to a lot of foot traffic. It was not until two hours into my dining that the restaurant had started to experience a constant ebb and tide of customers. After a customary greeting and being led to a seat, I was informed that the food was ready. I had completely forgotten that Indian restaurants serve buffet during lunch hours and from the menu during dinner. Before the server had walked away, I asked for a mango lassi and then without any delay, I went to see what delightful items I would sample.
The buffet table was not lacking for anything to put a smile on a food addict’s face. Because I figured I would have a taste of several food items, I started off small — not to give indication that I graduated to a point of piling my plate high. For my first round, which was my appetizer plate, I had a samosa with spicy chutney, spinach pakoras, and aloo chaat. The samosa was not full of chunks of potatoes, but rather with mashed potatoes with curry and coriander. The samosa was so delicious that it reminded me of the kind of food items embarrassing family members would keep grabbing from the buffet table and putting into their purses for later when they figure no one would see them. As to the spinach pakoras, it had to have been my timing of arriving at the restaurant early that I had pick of the pakoras fresh from the kitchen. Accented with tamarind chutney, these pakoras were top. And I smiled. A surprise was the aloo chaat, which had well-cooked potatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and cilantro. May I just say that cilantro goes with everything?
For my second round, I prepared my palate with a few sips of the mango lassi that I had ordered. Oh was it tasty. I have yet to go to any Indian restaurant that served a mango lassi that I did not enjoy. That may be because there is no mango lassi mix or mango lassi in the frozen section of the local market. It is all natural and goes so great down the throat. The daal makhani that I ate was not spicy the way that I prefer it, but it was delicious the way that I love it. Eaten with saffron rice, it was one very satisfying item that I will return to devour several more times. Add to that the murgh makhani and I was one very content man. The chicken seemed as though it had been cooked tandoori style and the gravy was thick enough to cling to the chicken and my fork before I polished it off.
It was a few minutes before I could indulge a third round of food. The mango lassi was a refreshing — mind you, it was no warmer than 19 degrees outside — and delightful to my palate that I nursed up to half of it and then waited a little more before going back to the buffet table. During this round I had lobia aloo, saffron rice, and saag paneer. The black-eyed peas and potatoes in the lobia aloo were perfect. The peas did not have any crunch to them, nor did they have a mush texture. The same could be said for the potatoes. As with the spices in the items that I had, they were milder than I prefer, but that did not detract from the flavour. The saag paneer, which is one of my favourite dishes, was a hit. The creamed spinach with cubes of cheese was a great combination with the rice. This was complete satisfaction.
Having eaten so much food, there was no way that I was going to entertain dessert. Had there been kulfi available, I would have tempered my eating portions so that I could have had some of the mango ice cream. Instead, I acknowledged that I had no more room for stuffing food. When the bill came, I was wondering if something had been missed in the calculation. The price was inexpensive compared to buffet prices I have paid at other Indian restaurants. And after paying the tab, I was wondering why Chicago Curry House is such a hidden treasure. More people should know that this gem exists and serves outstanding food. If I can brave Chicago’s cold weather for some delicious Indian food, certainly others can. Then again, I am a food addict and would dare Mother Nature to get in the way of my appetite and a food-magnet restaurant.