This year, I have been on a quest; a food quest! I am navigating a journey through food allergies, tummy pain, and the frustrating balance between good taste and good food. (You know what I’m talking about; that greasy pizza slice, piled high with pepperoni & sausage, tastes delicious! But how my body reacts to it lately… Eh, not so fab.)
My friend Roshan – VP of Camille Beckman and financial whiz whose finger is firmly on the pulse of all that’s cool in this town – recommended I try the Taj Mahal, owned & run by her fiance’s family. Taj Mahal proudly bears the title of Boise’s only Indian and Pakistani Restaurant. As a true believer of the beneficial properties of herbs, spices, and whole foods, I was hip to check out what Taj Mahal had to offer!
In 2009, Taj Mahal took over the space on 8th St., upstairs in the Capital Terrace Building, that was formerly occupied by an Italian restaurant. They have worked tirelessly to transform the space into a gourmet ethnic cuisine hotspot, with luxurious red walls, gleaming golden columns, authentic decorations, and gorgeous paintings. But what truly makes this place magnificent is the food!
Every morning, chef Farha Ishaq chops, sautes, simmers, and blends a resplendent array of meats, veggies, and sauces into a multitude of creative dishes that culminate in Taj Mahal’s lunchtime buffet! All-you-can-eat, for only $10.00. (They serve a fabulous dinner as well; view the full menu here.) My personal goal has been to find fast, healthy food for lunch meetings and on-the-go stops in downtown Boise, so I was excited to hop in and check out the lunch buffet!
I learned two things: 1) Curry is more varied than I ever dreamed possible! And 2) I love okra. Never in my life have I experienced this vegetable before; pairing it with juicy chunks of lamb meat and zesty-but-creamy masala sauce was a true culinary adventure for me. A happy, happy adventure! Farha’s husband, Sohail, continuously canvases the restaurant throughout lunch & dinner, graciously offering drinks, menu suggestions, and proper eating techniques for newbies like me: use pieces of warm, freshly-baked naan bread instead of a fork, to squeeze & scoop bites into your mouth. I tried not to make a huge mess of this technique, but wasn’t entirely successful. Definitely a method of eating I will need much, much more practice with, as I come back for lunch over, and over, and over again!
Now, on to the health benefits I mentioned above. In an effort to eat less refined wheat and more veggies, I’ve been looking into healthy food options outside of the typical American diet. According to About.com, “Indian cooking uses spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, green chillies…all of which have medicinal and healing properties.” Did you know that curry is super healthy? Tumeric, one of curry’s main ingredients, is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, helpful in the fight against IBS, pancreatitis, arthritis, and certain types of cancer! Curry also contains spices that can aid digestion, like black pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, and cumin. Another huge benefit of Indian food is the creative inclusion of tons & tons of vegetables! When I was a kid, I always ate my veggies first, to get them out of the way quickly. But the potato dumplings, Okra Masala, lentil blends, and basmati rice dishes at Taj Mahal changed my view of vegetables as a get-through-it food! Each bite is worth savoring, for its unique blend of spices and tasty flavors, made all the better by knowing it’s good for you, too!
If you’re searching for delicious, freshly-made dishes that won’t deeply impact your waistline or your wallet, I highly recommend checking out Taj Mahal! The lunch buffet, in particular, is a fantastic way to sample multiple menu items, taste things you might not have experienced before, and get an overall feel for the fabulous cuisine. And be sure to check out the nut & raisin naan; it’s SOOOO delish, and adds an extra sweetness to the meal, if you’re using it the traditional way as your silverware. Which I need to practice more, so I’ll see you soon, at Taj Mahal!
Read more about the health benefits of Indian food here:
LiveStrong.com: What are the Health Benefits of Curry Powder?
HealthonaBudget.com: Is Indian Food Healthy?
Taj Mahal, 150 North 8th St., Suite No. 222, Boise, Id 83702
Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30am-10:00pm.
Lunch Buffet Daily from 11:30am-2:30pm
Find them on Facebook at Taj Mahal of Boise!