Phnom Penh Restaurant Reviews: Indian DelightMarch 12, 2012
It’s hard to resist a restaurant when the menu uses words like “spit-drooling”, “hunger-evoking” and “finger-licking”.
It’s also impossible to wrap your mind around the following phrase, displayed prominently on the menu at Indian Delight – “Our aromatic appealing dishes stand high pleasing all olfactory and gustatory hallucination and simultaneously we are all set to leave our customers awe-struck with our service extraordinaire”.
Claims like that simply have to be checked out.
Indian Delight is a recent addition to the little strip of restaurants sprouting up along the riverfront, opposite Bopha Titanic. It’s an attractive spot, with triple-layered yellow, red and white tablecloths and large paintings of Indian and Nepali landscapes decorating the walls. The rear of the restaurant displays a jumble of styles with a straw canopy adorned with sparking Christmas lights and a flat-screen TV which, on the night we visited, blasted out the latest episode of Indian “Survivor”.
When it comes to the cuisine, I’m hard pressed to think of many menus with this many dishes. There are no less than 96 items listed in the main section, followed by 13 varieties of roti and paratha, 10 rice and biryani dishes and five options for yogurt dips. And if that’s not enough, there are a couple dozen Chinese and western dishes to round out the menu.
You’ll find all the usual suspects: chicken tandoori, aloo gobi, mutton vindaloo and fish masala. There’s also chicken do-pyaza, mutton Bengali style, peas pulao and prawn Calcutta style. And everything is priced between $1.50 for French fries (not sure where that fits into the Indian culture) to $6.50 for mutton sheesh kebab.
I sometimes find that restaurants with a huge variety of dishes aren’t able to do them all well. But, while we only ordered a small fraction of the menu, I found almost every dish we ordered to be delicious (not quite spit-drooling but certainly finger-licking).
The Chicken Pahari Kebab was the favourite. Small cubes of meaty chicken, marinated with cashew nut paste, mint coriander and spices arrived at our table sizzling and steaming on a cast iron skillet with a sprinkling of cabbage and onion. The flavours were pungent and delectable – tender morsels of chicken infused with subtle spices, leaving a piquant peppery after taste (which may be defined as “hunger evoking”) and a hankering for more.
The Baigan Masala was an excellent accompanying dish – moist, smoky chunks of eggplant dredged in a spicy tomato (masala) sauce which contained very little excessive oil that sometimes accompanies this dish in other establishments. The eggplant was cooked just right so it was tender but not too soft and the delicious sauce was perfect for mopping up with a hunk of naan.
I found the naan a little bland compared to some I’ve tasted in other Indian restaurants so it’s a good idea to have a spicy sauce to perk up the flavour.
We also added a dish of aloo raita (potato yogurt) which was a stroke of inspiration as the thick, creamy condiment was a perfect complement to the zesty seasonings in the other dishes.
On the night we visited, there was only one other occupied table in the restaurant so the wait staff was attentive and watchful – so much so that they whisked the plate away the instant I spooned the last morsel of chicken into my mouth. Could be that they wanted to catch the end of “Survivor”?
And while we devoured five dishes between two of us, there are at least 90 more dishes to go. After my first sampling of Indian Delight, I feel I’m up for the challenge.