South Indian restaurants in Philadelphia western suburbs
Rather than posting followups and more detailed information on Taj Mahal in other threads such as "Indian Row in Malvern", I have started this thread to add some further comments on this nice restaurant.
My second recent visit to this restaurant, located in the Chesterbrook Shopping Center in Wayne, PA, was even better than the first.
The standout dish this time (last time was the sambar) was the mulligatawny soup which was even spicier than the sambar. It was exploding in flavor and reminded me more of the description I had heard of mulligatawny soup (as being a "peppery" soup) and probably was prepared the way that is typical for such a south Indian soup. The taste reminded me of split pea soup but with a variety of very flavorful spices and cream - but this soup as they prepared it contained NO cream.
And at this visit, the tandoori chicken, although still cut up into small pieces, was much better, as the marinade to coat the chicken before cooking seemed to infuse itself more into the chicken as well as the coating of the chicken having the "typical" tandoori taste.
The chicken saag was delicious. The channa masala reminded me of the way it is prepared at Himalayan in Malvern - consisting of chick peas in a tomato-like sauce, nothing special but adequate. Other dishes consisted of vegetarian (vegetables in a coconut and yogurt sauce, rice cooked with lentils and vegetables, and potatoes in a thick tasty sauce) and one other meat dish (lamb?).
There were more deserts this time. The gulab jamun was done just right - the balls were light and moist and the sauce was mouthwateringly delicious. I had the fruit custard which had a pleasant flavor and unlike the same version at Himalayan, this one was thicker. There was also kheer and a cheese ball type pastry in a milk sauce.
Dosa and naan were served with the meal. The naan was brought out piping hot and moist. The dosa was very large and was filled with a potato filling that had a minimal degree of flavor and spice. (I prefer the way Gateway to India does their dosa.)
The sambar was as good as it was the last time I was here. This time I tried the vada which was crispy and enjoyable. The idly was done perfectly and was worthy of dunking into the sambar! Both the sambar and mulligatawny were so full of flavor and vegetables that a whole meal could have been made with them.
The salad bar, while I appreciate it being there (and do make use of it to cool off from the heat of the sambar and soup) along with the raita to top it off, is very weak in presentation and content. A few different kinds of vegetables are cut up in a minimal way and that's it.
The manager of the restaurant is a highly personable gentleman and does his utmost to welcome everyone and make them feel comfortable. I cannot say enough about his hospitality and friendliness.
While you may find more elaborate presentation at other restaurants and more deserts, you will be hard pressed to find the kind of flavor and spice you find for some of these dishes as served at Taj Mahal.
The day I visited Taj Mahal was in the middle of the week and the restaurant was moderately busy. No lines to wait for to get your food.
As I mentioned before, some dishes offered here that I normally don't get at other restaurants made the visit worthwhile, if nothing else, just for them - the sambar, the mulligatawny soup (on my list for best soups I have ever had), and the chicken saag.
As a postscript, if you try everything there is to eat here (even with the slightly more limited selection), unless you take a small amount for each of the selections, you will leave stuffed.
Like the way I used to feel after eating at A Taste of India, there are a few dishes that leave you craving more (like an addiction) - the chicken saag, the sambar, the mulligatawny.
This restaurant is having a promotional 10% discount on its lunch buffet through the end of July, so if you just get the buffet with nothing else, your lunch (or more accurately, your feast) will cost you less than $8.
I just learned that the team responsible for cooking south Indian style at Taj Mahal at the Chesterbrook Shopping Center (and improving the flavors of the food significantly from the prior approach) has left and that the restaurant is returning to the previous owner who will serve north Indian food. (The very hospitable host/manager will no longer be there since he has other personal responsibilities to attend to. He will be missed.)
Years ago, the north Indian food left alot to be desired. Hopefully, the restaurant will not duplicate that approach. Any visits by Chowhounders to the new version of Taj Mahal will be appreciated.