Casual Dining reviews

If you look closely, it may seem as if Raaz Indian Kitchen is going through an identity crisis. Originally named Taaz Indian Kitchen, the name was too close to another Indian cuisine outlet in town and both businesses lost out on customers because of the confusion.

Visit the bricks-and-mortar location on Tate Street and you may be met with signage that says Taaz or Raaz, but rest assured, you’re in the right place.

This small restaurant has a prevalent online food delivery presence. Every time I visited, multiple drivers arrived and departed carrying bags, coolers and parcels stuffed to the brim with food boxes. Ordering in the restaurant is easy, as you order at the counter and you can see the kitchen from the front door.

The entire menu has items not just from the subcontinent of India but also Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The eclectic array of dishes goes far beyond the familiar yet run-of-the-mill curries, rice dishes and mixed vegetables. To eat at Raaz is like traveling to a new culinary destination full of spice, rice, robust sauces, and roasted meats and vegetables.

There aren’t many frills or extemporaneous decorations here. Everything is served in Styrofoam with plastic cutlery. The most elaborate feature of Raaz is the fact that all of the employees are dressed in branded clothing. The polo-style shirts, T-shirts and hats bob in and out of the kitchen, take your order and present a level of professionalism that is sometimes lacking in casual dining situations.

To start your meal, pick a naan. There’s nothing like having a piece of bread to rip, dip, scoop and bite in to in order to quell the spiciness of your food or to help sop up every ounce of the dish you’re enjoying.

There are eight naan options to choose from here, including cheese, garlic, butter (which is just plain with some butter brushed on) all garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

The rest of the appetizer menu is extensive, and the little pockets of heavily spiced vegetables called samosas are a solid bet. The samosas come in threes and are served with two sauces: a fresh herbed cilantro and mint sauce redolent with a bit of spice that hits you on the back of the palate. There’s also a thick, sweet tamarind chutney that tastes of deep, dark raisins with the tang and tartness of the tamarind rounding out the melange of flavors.

The momo is not an internet hoax that began in 2018, it’s a steamed Nepalese meat-filled dumpling served with a creamy tomato sauce. Katti rolls are like a sandwich or a burrito, as it’s baked chicken strips wrapped in thin, crispy roti and served with the aforementioned sauces.

As far as entrees go, the chicken tikka, butter chicken and biryani are all solid choices, but the Chicken 65 and Chicken 555 are both dishes that are more flavorful and worth a try. Heavily spiced and marinated chicken in sauce and served with rice, there’s more than meets the eye once paired with accompanying sliced onions and lemon slices.

Don’t skip dessert. Kulfi, the frozen treat is a ubiquitous Indian delight. But it’s the Gulab Jamun, which are sweet, soft spongy dough balls soaked in cardamom-spiced sugar syrup, which are the must-have. Think of them like fried doughnut holes or Greek loukoumades.

When you’re ready to take a trip to another continent and experience a feast of flavorful, interesting delights, give Raaz Indian Kitchen a try.

Casual Dining features local restaurants for diners on a budget. It appears the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Contact Nikki Miller-Ka at nicolettemiller.ka@gmail.com.

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