Indian food will always be comfort food for me; I mean it’s the food I grew up with and was staple for at least 17 years of my life. But having grown up in India, I will admit to being a snob when it comes to Indian food in the U.S. I am not easily impressed, and for good reason.
Then an Indian restaurant like Chicago Curry House comes along, that too in my neighborhood, and challenges the perception that you can in fact find authentic Indian food outside India!
Even though I’ve been frequenting this restaurant for almost a decade, I was particularly excited about attending a focused menu tasting, and also learn more about Nepali cuisine, which I know less about. Owner Bala Ghimire has been a friend for a long time, and he always does an exceptional job of creating an experience through the food.
Chicago Curry House is an Indian and Nepali restaurant located in the South Loop featuring an array of classic dishes from both cuisines. And if you didn’t know this already, the two cuisines are very similar, yet with some marked differences.
The décor itself provides patrons with a cultural experience, with soft Indian music playing in the background and historical Indian paintings adorning the walls.
The Mango Lassi was a no-brainer, and Curry House makes it best. A big glass of creamy, smooth, yogurt & mango blended drink was brought to the table. I usually have several of these throughout an Indian meal because it never fails to provide the cooling taste I seek with all the spices in the food. The lassi here is magical, because they manage to make them sweet, but with hints of sourness, and rich tastes of the yellow mango used in it.
For food, I asked to start with something from the Nepali section of the menu and it had to be the classic, MoMos (steamed dumplings). By the way, their MoMos were recently mentioned as the Best Dish by Chicago Magazine. The MoMos I had were out of this world. Steamed, like I prefer, with a burst of exotic flavors from the marinated vegetables in Nepali spices.
I also ordered a plate of their Vegetable Samosas, which is a popular Indian appetizer and in my opinion, a good differentiator for Indian restaurants. If the samosas are good, you can be rest assured you’re in for a treat. Here they were great, fried to a perfect light-brown, filled with a tasty mashed potato & peas mixture, and served with their delicious mint and tamarind chutneys.
Now it was time to delve into the seafood. Bala suggested I try to Tandoori Fish Tikka. A sizzling platter was brought out comprising of tiny, tender & boneless pieces of Mahi-Mahi marinated in red, tandoori spices, cooked in the tandoor (clay oven), and then tossed with grilled onions and peppers. Whether you’re a pescetarian or a meat lover, a tandoor dish is a must at Curry House.
The curries followed next. Can’t go to Chicago Curry House and not order a curry, right? So I tried the Goa Fish Curry and a vegetarian Saag Paneer (creamed spinach with Indian cottage cheese). While I’ve had the Saag plenty, the fish curry prepared ‘Goan’ style was a new find for me. And it also left me speechless! An orangish gravy with mini pieces of fish cooked in a coconut sauce; it was utterly aromatic! Each bite was a burst of exotic flavors of coconut milk, ginger and cardamom, and with a little sweetness from the fresh fish. My favorite from the night!
Goa, a coastal city in India and formerly a Portuguese territory, is known for its sweet and sour flavorful seafood curries. Goan food can be daunting to many chefs because of the elaborate preparation that comes with it. But Chicago Curry House does not shy away from it. They continuously strive to bring the most unique and authentic foods to their patrons, as is evident with this dish.
The breads I had on the side; The Laccha Paratha (flat Indian wheat bread) and the Garlic Naan, were both clay-oven products, and also did not disappoint. They had just the right crispiness and flakiness that was needed to complement the curry. Another reason for me to gorge!
And no I was not done yet. I concluded the meal with a steaming portion of their Shrimp Biryani (a traditional rice dish cooked in a special vessel whose edges are sealed using a wheat dough). The beauty of biryani is that it is a delicate dish yet packed with robust flavors. I devoured the fragrant rice layered with well-marinated pieces of shrimp in a delicious masala and lots of toasted saffron; just like the original dish calls for. Chicago Curry House truly pays tribute to biryani!
I was a happy-full and very content! A trip down memory lane for me and a feast of all the exotic, comfort foods I grew up with. The service at this restaurant also requires an applause. All servers were extremely patient and polite. Their service upholds the rich culture of hospitality of the two countries.
Needless to say, I will continue dining here. With its popularity soaring, the restaurant opened three other locations, Curry Hut in Highwood, Nepal House in the South Loop, and Nepal House in Devon. They also participate in most online meal-delivery programs, including GrubHub and TryCaviar. If you’re familiar with Indian food already, then Curry House should be your next stop, and if you’re not, then Curry House should be your first stop!
Shukriya, Chicago Curry House!
Chicago Curry House
Neighborhood: South Loop
Address: 899 S Plymouth Ct, Chicago, IL 60605
Phone: ((312) 362-9999
Hours: Mon-Sun: 10:30am – 9:45pm
Price: $4.95 - $24.95