Dr. Yong-Yeol Ahn and his research team at Harvard University discovered that Western food and Eastern food has one main difference: recipes in Western countries tend to combine similar flavors while Eastern recipes combine flavors that rarely overlap.
This means that when you taste Eastern food — and Indian food in particular — the taste buds all over your tongue light up, from savory in the middle of your tongue to sweet on the tip and sour on the sides.
When Taj first opened many, many years ago, we had little ones in tow and it could be difficult to get them to eat anything more adventurous than mac and cheese. The gentlemen servers at Taj would suggest milder items of their menu, such as anything tandoori, a biryani, or — my favorite — butter chicken.
One memorable time, our daughter had only eaten half of her lunch. Our server sweetly but seriously encouraged her to eat it all by promising her a mango lassi drink when she was done. To this day, she loves Indian food ... and mango lassis.
Though the ownership has changed a few times since then, the service we received during this visit was reminiscent of that visit long ago. Our server joked with us about how spicy we wanted our dishes (repeating them back correctly with the exception of our daughter’s order, who he “remembered” as having requested very spicy) and who frequently made a delightful head bobble during our conversations.
We started with a mixed basket of naan, including butter, garlic and cheese naan. They are well-known for their naan and the cashew-raisin version is my favorite. I was done with meat for the day so I chose paneer tikka masala, an indescribable homemade cheese in a creamy tomato curry. We also had a perfectly spiced shrimp biryani before our desserts of homemade pistachio and mango ice creams and gulab jamun.
It may be in an odd location and the atmosphere is based on whichever Bollywood movie is playing, but Taj is a jewel. Come try a few dishes and light up your tongue.
Taj Indian Restaurant
Address: 5033 Brookhaven Road
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Payment: credit card, cash
Kids menu: no
Noise level: low
Health rating: 88
Delivery service: kngdelivery.com
Price range: $9.95-$13.95
Rating: 3.5 stars