Jaipur (Northern) Cuisine of India in a Southern Party Setting
(Gerry Furth-Sides) Enter what feels like a whitewashed Southern garden party inside the French glass doors of Jaipur Cuisine of India, doors away from the Westside Pavilion addition. Pink is the color Jaipur, the city in India and here it is as well. The chairs may be lacquered black but you can hardly see them; they are usually fully booked with people.
Authentic Northern Indian dishes fill the menu, polished and slightly adapted to the lighter and local westside palate, which also prefers milder foods. Extra “heat” is always available in the form of chilies menu items or for the wall-long lunch buffet.
Vegetable Samosa arrives at your table as a patty shell filled with spiced potatoes and green peas in traditional style. The Jaipur Hara Vegetable Kabab patties are made of minced spinach, cilantro, lemon juice, spices and green beans rather than peas and oh, so lightly fried.
The Onion Bhaji version at Jaipur Cuisine of Onions coated with slightly spiced garbanzo bean batter are lightly fried into crispy onion rings. Very American!
A light, refreshing jicama, fresh tomato and cucumber salad with a topknot of mint combines the best of both California-Mediterranean and Indian sensibilities. The picturesque large lettuce leaf it is served on becomes the bowl.
Then we get to the Indian Barbeque section and the Fish Tikka Kababs of “small pieces of fish, seared in the Tandoor on skewer. Moist, succulent, seasoned to bring out its flavor, it is one of the best fish dishes in the city, if not the best.
Lamb is a more expected Indian Barbeque dish and there is both Sheekh Kabab, minced lamb mixed with onions and spices and broiled in the tandoor, and Lamb Chop. The Lamb Chop is a very modest title for the rich Rack of Lamb, marinated spices and grilled in the tandoor.
Just to prove that their’s is a “cut above” the ordinary, the chicken Tikka Masala, arguably the most popular dish among diners, and certainly the most widely known one, has a glossy tomato and cream sauce over the barbequed pieces of chicken. It is a sauce so smooth and mysteriously beguiling, you would like to put it on every dish until you can name the ingredients.
Pairing the most popular protein with the most popular vegetable, the Sag Paneer, Spinach cooked with chunks of Indian homemade cheese and spices, proved equally subtle and sophisticated.
Spinach also starred the Indian Breads form the Tandoor, first as a stuffing in the Spinach Kulcha, along with onions. It proved a wonderful contrast to the more spirited, Chili Naan, skeckled with green chili and cilantro.
Among the seven Indian Rice dishes on the menu, the Kashmiri Pullav, honoring the northern region of the Punjabi owner, is dotted with fruits and nuts. Light and fluffy yet substantial and lush, it lives up to its name. Pullav dishes have a rice base (think of the well known pilaf) but all the ingredients in a Pullav dish are cooked together and have fewer added ingredients, different from the Biryani’s in which the rice is first cooked three-fourths of the way and than layered and nurtured on a low flame for a denser texture (chicken, lamb and prawn at Jaipur Cuisine). The Pullav becomes a better, and lighter, choice when the meal includes many other dishes.
Homemade Indian Pista (pistachio) Kulfi and Mango Kulfi (ice cream) was the final touch to the meal. It brought our meal full cycle since we enjoyed a refreshing Mango Lassi (yogout and mango drink) when we first arrived and were seated.
Then name, Jaipur” was chosen because it is the name of a city in India with a certain reputation. In 1863 to welcome Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s csort, the city was painted pink and remains the same “pink city” today.
Beli Ram Sani, owner, is usually on site and along with being raised in the area of India that produces great restaurateurs, was trained in Germany and worked in Los Angeles restaurants for 15 years. He took ownership of Jaipur in 1999.
In his words, “I wanted to create a restaurant whose food, service and space is loyal to the flavors of India, and based on the cuisine of northern India where I grew up. Our food is flavorful and carefully seasoned to appeal and satisfy the California taste. Our menu has choices to tempt everyone, and I believe we have something to suit all palates. Our service is traditional, but in a relaxed style and try to keep our atmosphere is warm and friendly.”
(www.jaipurla.com). 10916 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064(310) 470-4994. Order online for pickup or delivery below.