Having spent 3 days every week on the road for the last 10 years, my Roz Ka Khana is typically at a restaurant. I try to mix the cuisines (not really) but prefer to stick to Indian food if I can find one and I have found one in almost every city I have visited from Albany, NY to Wichita, KS. I classify these Indian restaurants in three categories “Thank you this feels like home”, “Great! I can bring a client” and “Is this some kind of a joke?!”. I will refrain from commenting on the last category (not worth my effort), as they also have a tendency to disappear from the face of the earth in a few months. I will, however share my thoughts on restaurants that warrant a review on the first two categories.
One of my all time favorite places is Rajdhani in the Greater Los Angeles area, specifically in Artesia, CA. Rajdhani is a Vegetarian Gujarati restaurant and what puts this in the “home” category is not just the homely food but the very welcoming owners. As you walk-in to this restaurant you are personally greeted by the owner on most days. Unlike many other Indian restaurants, the food is personally served to you by waiters and and doesn’t offer a buffet.
The waiter brings out a thali with 5 katooris (cups) and 2 steel tumblers for chaas and water.
Rajdhani has a Prix Fixe menu that changes daily and has some constants – hot, unlimited chapathis, puris, rice, and khichidi, aam ras, gujarati kadhi, sambar, papad, dhokla with blanched chilis and chaas (spiced buttermilk Gujarati style). The menu includes three other subzis, and one appetizer. This week when I was at the restaurant the three subzis were Ravaiya Potato, Okra Masala, and Black Eyed Peas. The mouthwatering dhoklas were soft and served with mint chutney on the side.
The desert choices include – Srikhand, Kulfi, Gajar Halwa, Doodhi Halwa and Mohanthal. They give you all of this for a price of $13.99 + Taxes.
The okra is well done and has a balanced level of spices perfect for a person who prefers mild dishes. I need my food to have a higher degree of heat to it and the owners of the restaurant know me quite well by now, so my thali usually has extra blanched chillis 😉
The chapathis are thin with a little ghee on it and did I add that they are unlimited! The waiters bring out chapattis as the patrons finish them – nothing like hot chapathis straight off the skillet (tava) .
After the 8th or 9th chapathi that they bring out to me, I finish up and asked for a finger bowl. Ah the quintessential finger bowl found in upscale restaurants in India! Yes they have it here and I thoroughly enjoy using it. With the main course over the waiter then asks me for my choice of desert – and Srikhand it is! I do have to take my Gujju friends there to get their opinions about the Srikhand but in my mind it was one of the best!
As an aside, my 6 year old son loved the food too and feasted on the srikhand and puris like there was no tomorrow, Malini had to force him to stop!
I try to visit Rajdhani atleast once when I am in the LA area, even if it takes me across town to have lunch or dinner. This restaurant absolutely would fall in the “Thank you this feels like home” category.