To celebrate Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Lights - the Bombay Spice Grill & Wine Restaurant is offering a festival menu for two from Monday, November 12 to Sunday, November 18. Chicago Splash Magazine journalists, Barbara, Leon and Dorothie Shah had the opportunity to preview this feast. It was delightful to discover that the restaurant specializes in healthy and flavorful food preparation perfect for one of us who is vegetarian and gluten-free.
Stepping inside we found a relatively small, attractive, informal space a great place for families. “Think healthy” is the restaurant’s motto. However, until I stood in front of the restaurant, I didn’t realize that this meant lower calories, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices. Owner John Kapoor who is a Ph. D. Pharmacist would like to serve traditional Indian food that is healthy.
Executive Chef, Sunil Kumar has a mission to serve foods with less fat and subtle spices (rather than food with lots of chili) in hopes of attracting individuals who would not typically try tradition Indian food. He brings with him experience growing up in Punjab, India, co-owning restaurants and establishing the first branch of this restaurant in Phoenix, AZ.
His goal is to offer his clientele an elegant and palate-satisfying experience without breaking their bank accounts or diets. In his restaurant in Phoenix and more recently opened here in Chicago he presents food that is wholesome, flavorful and satisfying. His target is to expand his health conscious delicious menus across the United States in the next 10 years.
On to our feast. We found that we wanted to take our time in exploring the menu because there were so many choices and possibilities. Our server, Rachel Kaiser, was helpful, knowledgeable and attentive. Dorothie Shah has expertise in preparing traditional Indian food, having learned when cooking with her mother-in-law and her husband. She pointed out that a shelf filled with spices was just what you might expect to see in a any well-stocked traditional Indian kitchen, whether in India or elsewhere. She also observed decorative canisters filled with basic dried foods that that are the basic ingredients when preparing this kind of food.
The celebration menu is so special that regardless of background, one can definitely enjoy a wonderful feast. “from Monday, November 12 to Sunday, November 18 with a special menu for two. The menu is valued at $100.00, but will be available for $49.95 during the festival and includes: a choice of two appetizers, a “Build Your Own” bowl or Biryani bowl, Paratha, Bombay Spice’s Signature Sauce sampler, and a dessert sampler.
Since Diwali is also an auspicious time for precious metals purchased in India, such as jewelry and gold coins (this is in reverence to the Goddess Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperity), each guest of Bombay Spice Grill and Wine who dines at the restaurant between Monday, November 5 and Sunday, November 18 will receive a customary, complimentary gold coin. The coin’s value is $1.00 in gold and can be exchanged for an appetizer of choice at Bombay Spice Grill and Wine until the end of November.”
Our group was very impressed with the selection of wines, beers and cocktails. Wines are available by the glass and bottle and were reasonably priced. Our selection of the Heinz Eifel Shine Reisling from Germany was absolutely delicious and perfect with the food we ordered.
Papadum with sauce began our meal. The papadum was crispy and delicious and the sauces ranged from very zesty to mild. They were: tamarind, raita, Bombay hot and mint.
From the cold appetizer selection we chose Chicpea Ceviche (chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, tamarind, mint & yogurt). Tasting it we found the textures and flavors very enjoyable.
Two hot appetizers were:
Seared Tofu (a bombay spice signature, dusted with herbs and spices). This was delicately flavored and the approach unusual and it was very good.
Lentil Cake Towers (warm lentil cakes topped with onion and tomatoes, garnished with crispy noodles, yogurt and mint sauce. This dish was outstanding in its presentation and had a wonderful blend of flavors. It was moist and just wonderful.
Along with the main course we were served Paratha (naan bread stuffed with potato & peas, which was warm, crisp and perfect. It was hard not to keep eating this.
The main courses were Biryani (basmati rice, fresh spinach, vegetables and raisins with tumeric, almonds, coriander and chicken) and an item from the “create your entree” section. The chicken was tender and flavorful and not oily. The vegetables held their texture and were not “mushy”. The portions were very generous and perfect for sharing.
In the “create your entrée” section, there three steps. Step 1 - choose a base –basmati rice, brown rice, quinoa. We selected quinoa. Step 2 – choose a sauce – (served mild, medium or hot) ( curry, korma, spinach, masala and vindaloo. The Korma was mild, mellow and perfect. Step 3 – choose an ingredient - vegetables ( potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, chickpeas, mushrooms, lentils, tofu, broccoli and mixed vegetables), lamb seafood ( lamb, shrimp, fish), and chicken. Our selection was mixed vegetables with additional mushrooms. We "ooed and aahed- and mmed", it was so good.
Our dessert flight offered a sampling of all three specialty desserts. These were Rice Pudding (chilled homemade rice pudding with cardamom and topped with pistachios), Carrot Halwa (fresh carrots, milk, cardamom, and pistachios) and Mango Sorbet (non-fat and dairy free, topped with pistachios. All were delicious but the favorite for each of us was the Mango Sorbet with fresh mango flavor blended with the sorbet. It had a pleasant tang and ended the meal perfectly. We promised to return so that Surendra Shah, Dorothie’s husband can also enjoy this lovely approach to Indian food.
You, too, can learn how to prepare healthy Indian cuisine without sacrificing flavor for fewer calories if you participate in the “Spice Up Your Life” cooking classes taught by Chef Kumar on Saturdays from 2-4 p.m. The class includes food, wine and recipes and they are very popular. Call ahead 312.477.7657.
And for something quite different, you might want to attend Henna Happy Hour held first Thursdays 5-8 p.m. where for $15.00 you receive a Henna design and a glass of wine.
Bombay Spice Grill & Wine
450 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60656
Dorothie Shah told us about an additional event that will brighten Chicago during its darkest days.
-World's Winter: With a ”Diwali, the Festival of Lights” display, Indo-American Heritage Museum is joining core members of the Chicago Cultural Alliance (CCA) in World’s Winter: Celebrations in Chicagoland, a multicultural exhibition that tells a story of living and celebrating together. World’s Winter will be showcased at Trickster Gallery, 190 Roselle Road, Schaumburg, IL 60193, November 16, 2012 to January 12, 2013, 10 am - 5 pm daily, opening night, Friday, November 16 from 6:00 to 8:00.
Photos: Leon Keer