Located 262 kilometers from New Delhi, and popularly known as the "Pink City," Jaipur was founded in 1727. The pink color was used at the time to create an impression of red sandstone buildings of Moghul cities; it was repainted in 1876, during the visit of the Prince of Wales.
And this delightful color scheme is beautifully emphasized in the striking pink tablecloths that adorn Jaipur Indian Cuisine, a charming BYOB that serves up some of the very best Indian cuisine to be found in the Delaware Valley.
To start things off, the mulligatawny soup ($3.95), a peppery broth awash with lentils, tomatoes, and vegetables, is a benchmark effort&. ditto the papri chaat ($5.95) - crisp dough wafers combined with chick-peas and morsels of boiled potatoes swimming in a seasoned yogurt-mint sauce - and the bhel puri ($3.95), puffed rich crisps commingled with potatoes, tomatoes, and onions covered in a sweet & sour chutney.
Many Indian appetizers are deep-fried, including delicious vegetable ($3.95) and meat ($4.95) samosas and tender chicken pakoras ($4.95). For a variation on the theme, you might also consider the paneer pakora ($5.50), a delicate homemade cheese and herb fritter.
When it comes to the entrées, the chicken saag ($12.95), morsels of boneless chicken breast with spinach in a rich and engagingly spiced sauce, is an excellent choice, as is the tandoor fish tikka ($19.50), the grilled spicy salmon. The biryanis are also consistently excellent. These are sumptuous casseroles - chicken ($12.95), lamb ($13.95), or shrimp ($15.95) - in which the rice is partially cooked, layered with a rich curry made with the aforementioned main constituents, and then cooked again until all the flavors have properly mingled.
Among the vegetarian possibilities, the baingan bhartha ($10.95), grilled mashed eggplant prepared with onions, tomatoes, green peas, and spices, is a personal fave and always properly prepared here. And the same may be said for the alu gobhi ($10.95) a blend of pleasantly spiced cauliflower and potatoes.
Jaipur is highly recommended for the quality of its cuisine and the spit and polish of its décor. Service, however, can best be described as disorganized and distant - even when the restaurant is barely occupied. On one occasion, we were just beginning to make a dent in our appetizers& when out came the entrées. Unforgivable in my book.
Perhaps the service takes it clue from the owner, who seems constantly preoccupied with matters other than his patrons. On our very first visit, the proprietor rushed past us while babbling on his cell phone, never acknowledging our presence, and leaving the hosting chores to one of his underlings. In point of fact, the man constantly has a cell phone firmly attached to his ear. As far as I can tell, he isn't taking requests for reservations, which come through on the house phone. So what's going on? Is he calling Delhi? Ordering out for Chinese food? Your guess is as good as mine.
If you do decide to pay a call here - and the cuisine is certainly worth it - my advice is to come during a weeknight or a quiet Sunday evening. Given my experiences, I can't imagine the horrors of the service on a free-for-all Saturday night when the place is moving along at full tilt..
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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