Shalimar serves up delicious food daily via lunch buffet [Food & Dining]

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The existence of the all-you-can-eat buffet is a godsend for people like me – food-lovers with a ravenous appetite and a desire not to be tied down to just one offering. Combine this with my love of ethnic and hard-to-spell foods, and we arrive at the lunch buffet of Shalimar, home of fine Indian cuisine.

Shalimar is special to me, because it is where I first tasted Indian food. For some reason incomprehensible to me, I didn’t immediately like it – and yet I craved it again. Something must have been off that day, because from my second meal there, I was hooked for life. Over the years, it has become my official favorite Lunch Spot.

It had been a while since my last visit, however, so my wife and I headed over for lunch yesterday. For the low price of $7.99, we had the run of the place. The first step is to pile the plate with rice. This I smothered in an old favorite: chicken tikka masala. This classic dish features chicken cooked in a tomato-yogurt sauce. The spiciness levels can vary, but today it was on the hot side, which is fine with me. Not too hot, though – just enough to enhance the flavors of tomato and garlic, all of which complemented the creaminess supplied by the yogurt.

Along with rice, the other necessary staple is naan: Indian flatbread. Thin, yet dense, naan is essential for scooping up sauce-soaked rice.

I also sampled the dhal frye, a creamy dish featuring lentils cooked with garlic, ginger, turmeric, onion, and tomato. The sauce was spicy, but the combination with the lentils tempered it down to a satisfying dull roar.

Finally (alarmingly finding my belly approaching capacity earlier than usual), I tasted the punjabi bhaji: vegetable fritters in a tomato-yogurt sauce. I found myself wondering if it was the same sauce as the tikka masala – it had the same color and consistency, but with a slightly different flavor. This could merely have been a result of the vegetable flavors versus the chicken. This is not a fault, though – it was still delicious.

Stuffed though I was, I can never pass up Shalimar’s dessert selection. Normally I will get a little of everything (there are only three or four options), but today I passed up the rice pudding and the mango pudding and decided to have the ras malai: a cheesecake dessert in milk syrup. This, however, is not cheesecake as you know it. The “cake” part is a small disk remarkably similar to a sponge – and I mean this in a good way. The sweet syrup soaks in, and a bite down releases it all into your mouth with a gush of flavor. The resulting dryness of the cake can be a bit off-putting, but it’s an interesting textural experience, one I actually find enjoyable.

Lunch for two, with a 20% tip, comes out to exactly $20.00 – a paltry sum considering the quality and quantity of the food.

Shalimar is located at 1850 S. Hurstbourne Parkway.

Photo: Erin Day

About Allan Day
My "real" job is bartending, but I'm a writer and a filmmaker, owner of Monkey's Uncle Productions LLC. I am also a single father, avid reader of books, watcher of movies, and listener of music. My idols include Kurt Vonnegut, Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Kaufman, Lloyd Kaufman, Lars von Trier, Ingmar Bergman, Thom Yorke, Jonsi, Don DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace.
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