Ajanta triumphs once again. [Berkeley]
I know it's been mentioned in other threads but this place is just outstanding. I used to go there much more often even though its almost 40 miles from my house. Lachu Moorjani is most gracious, and talented and he takes great care in sourcing his ingredients for this green certified establishment. The food is so excellent and consistent. I could eat there frequently without getting tired of the flavors. Many vegetarian options are available including superb lotus root dishes.
I had portobello pakora which were very light and pillowy with a finely spiced dipping sauce. The specials this month include a fine Goan dish, Galina Shakooti which I ordered high medium on the hotness scale. It had many different spices including ajwan seeds and the chicken was sprinkled with dried coconut. There was just enough naan to wipe up every last bit of sauce. The naan itself is noteworthy. Many places make naan too thick so that it's spongy. Ajanta makes it thinner with a nice exterior that's slightly flaky.
The full dinner comes with basmati (brown basmati available), achar, apricot chutney, and pickled carrots with ajwan.
A nice masala chai ended the meal. Unfortunately I was too stuffed to have their great kulfi for desert.
All of the bay area has many indian restaurants to choose from but I've never found anything to compare with Ajanta. The prices are very reasonable and its a lovely room to dine in. The staff is experienced and I've never felt rushed. They recently did a special series of dinners for Diwali. Hopefully more special dinners are in the works.
Thanks to Lachu and his fine staff!
1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707
Had another fine meal at Ajanta this evening. Chicken Bafat was a dish I hadn't tried before. Its from Mangalore and uses a special spice mix, bafat masala. I ordered it medium and that was probably a step above where my comfort level is. The sauce is a deep dark red that reminded me of a Oaxacan mole poblano. When you think about it, moles and curries share more than a few similarities. Perfectly cooked boned chicken thigh meat was present in just the right portion.
The dish also incorporates dried coconut which is often a red flag for me. No ingredient has been so abused as the coconut (coconut shrimp. pina coladas, etc). But in Indian dishes, I find the flavor and texture of coconuts to fit right in.
I hadn't had the kulfi for dessert in a while and it was just as good as I remembered. They use a spice called keora which is an aqueous extract of the pandanus flower. Pandanus is a wonder plant throughout south asia, yielding everything from weavings to hair ornaments. The fragrant liquid is also used in perfumes and cosmetics
A piping hot masala chai topped off the meal.
Thanks to Lachu and his team for another great meal!