The Austin Chronicle

Two Wildly Different Indian Food Spots With Lighter Options

G'raj Mahal and Taj Palace offer their own spin on summer-friendly fare

By Jessi Cape, May 31, 2019, Food

The spices in Indian curry – garam masala, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ginger – stay in fashion all year long, regardless of what hellstorm or heat wave is brewing. It's not all rice and potatoes and cream, after all. While the flavors of the "world's largest democracy" (we hear you, Arundhati Roy!) are far too vast for any one menu to encompass, these two spots each offer their own spin on classic-but-lighter, summer-friendly fare.

Yes, G'raj Mahal is on Rainey Street, and yes, it is always busy. But those perfectly puffed, adorable tamarind explosions, aka pani puri, are reason enough to brave the crowd. Factor in Indian-style buffalo rechaad wings, some papadum (gluten-free lentil wafers served with an assortment of chutneys), add some pickled mango to any dish, and you've made a solid meal before you even hit the mains. If you want the rice but not the dairy, their vindaloo is legit (and spicy!) and most of the curries have an almond cream option, but just go ahead and try out the non-cream-based chicken jalfrezi (ginger tomato sauce with onions and bell peppers) or shrimp madrasi (garlic tomato sauce with lemon) for a less caloric party in your mouth.

You might be under the impression that Taj Palace is skippable simply due to its Middle Fiskville locale and under-the-radar digs. But this recently renovated staple of almost 30 years is cozy and approachable, and the staff has its eye on tradition and elegance. They offer beautiful classics like tikka masala and several kulchas and parathas, but head straight to that charcoal-grilled tandoori specialties section! The chicken malai kebab features huge pieces of very tender and juicy marinated grilled meat served with onions and peppers, and the tandoori shrimp are barbecued and delicious; or go big and order the mixed grill with chicken tikka, boti kabab, seekh (minced lamb) kabab, and fish (mahi mahi) tikka. If there's any room at all, they've got a solid gajar halwa (a carrot and nut delicacy, served warm) and plenty of other decadent desserts. It's worth noting that this little restaurant is walking-distance from Galaxy Highland, AFS, Easy Tiger at the Linc (post-dinner cocktail and pingpong), and, of course, the electric car charging station. There is really no need to sit in your Tesla and watch the world drive by.

G’raj Mahal

512/480-2255; 73 Rainey

Taj Palace

512/452-9959; 6700 Middle Fiskville

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