Several years ago, I fully believed that I hated Indian food. My only experiences with curry up until them were from Jamaican food, which I never liked and convinced me that I hated all kinds of curry. When I tried actual, Indian curry, I found it to be nothing like Jamaican curry. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have been so hardheaded about refusing to try Indian food, but that’s water under the bridge now. I have tried 3 different Indian restaurants since then, and finally decided to review one of them.
Bombay Darbar is located in Coconut Grove, and recently underwent an expansion to accommodate more diners than their original tiny restaurant did. It is still a good idea to make a reservation beforehand, though.
Each table gets a plate of papadum (crispy lentil wafers) served with two types of chutney. The tomato chutney is like a slightly sweet pico de gallo, while the mint chutney is mellow and cooling. I still can’t decide which one I like better.
As an appetizer, we ordered the samosas. A samosa is like an Indian empanada, a pastry filled with a savory filling and then fried. These were filled with seasoned potato and peas, and are slightly spicy. The sweet tamarind dipping sauce makes a good contrast with the heat of the samosa filling.
While you can certainly order individual entrees, Indian food is great when enjoyed “family style.” All entrees come with basmati rice, which they will gladly refill if you ask them to. Watch out for cardamom pods in the rice. I accidentally bit into one once. That was not very pleasant. It does give the rice a nice flavor and aroma, though.
My go-to dish is the chicken mushroom. It’s basically chicken in curry gravy with coarsely chopped mushrooms. Being the lightweight that I am, I always get mine mild. The flavor profile of this dish is complex enough without the addition of spice. The mushrooms are somehow always cooked tender, but not mushy.
One of the crowning achievements of Indian cuisine is Tandoori. Tandoori refers to Indian barbecue, which is cooked in a tandoor (a device that looks like a cross between an oven and a barbecue pit). Meats that are cooked in a tandoor are served on a sizzling platter with onions and green peppers, very reminiscent of fajitas. We ordered the tandoori shrimp. The yogurt marinade gives the shrimp a nice tang.
We ordered some naan to go with our meal. Naan is a type of Indian flatbread, which can be served plain or with a variety of toppings. My preference is plain naan, which is light, buttery, and perfect for sopping up gobs of leftover sauce. My friends are partial to the garlic naan, which is too intense for me.
Bombay Darbar is single-handedly responsible for opening my palate to the flavors of India, and is still my favorite Indian restaurant in Miami. Service is always great, and the larger location now has a more comfortable ambiance.
For more information on Bombay Darbar, visit their web site at http://bombaydarbar.com/