One Thing to Try: Shahi Vegetable Appetizer at Shahi Palace

There’s a lot I like about Indian food: the spice, the mint, the use of lamb, chickpeas, and oh man the naan. LOVE the naan. Not to mention buttery sauces, I think I mentioned the spices (from cumin to curry to pepper) and the often accompanying heat.

But on a recent trip to Shahi Palace over on the west side of town, it was the fried vegetable appetizer that I kept thinking about after the meal was done. All the more impressive since I really enjoyed my Lamb Madras (cubes of lamb in spicy coconut curry, dry red chili peppers, cumin and herbs).

Basically a sampler of the vegetarian appetizer options on the menu, the SVA (I’m shortening it to that acronym from now on) consists of (from top to bottom, above) two Pickle Pakora, two Paneer Pakora a large Vegetable Pakora and two Vegetable Samosas. Megan and I ordered one to split.

The Pickled Pakora were great. A deep fried jalapeno in chickpea batter, this had strong pepper flavor without much heat. Add in a dab of the Tamarind sauce for a bit of sweet, and you’re set. A smoother, less cheesy, less saccharin jalapeno popper with raspberry sauce. Delish.

The Paneer Pakora was shockingly my least favorite. Fried cheese stuffed with a spicy mint sauce? Sounds like a sure thing. I think my mint sauce must have been missing, as this one came out a bit bland to me.

Sitting on the center of the dish was a large, fried cone of some sort, that ended up being the Vegetable Pakora. This fritter is stuffed with vegetables and had a strong cumin flavor. I wished there was more than one. As is, I was forced to lobby for more than my fair half. Unfortunate for me, I’m not the most skilled lobbyist in my family…

On to the Vegetable Samosas, which had the darkest batter, and made of spiced potatoes, peas and a center of lentils. Really tasty. And light for so much starch.

That’s a lot of food, actually, for an appetizer, and after finishing it off, there was plenty of the Garlic Naan, Lamb Madras and Megan’s Malai Kofta (the great dish made of vegetable balls with homemade cheese in a mildly spiced creamy tomato sauce) to take home for leftovers (below).

Which is why this fits in the “One Thing to Try.” Or at least why I’m putting it there!

What about you all? Like Indian Food? What do you think of Shahi in comparison to the old Taste of India, or the Khorasan Kabob house on 41st Street? Favorite dishes? Hit me up!