What is it about the rich aroma of curry spices and sizzling tandoori chicken that gets Indian food lovers drooling and others running for the door?
When it comes to this exotic cuisine, people either love it or hate it – but to haters out there, you may just change your mind if you hit up Shalimar. Whether you’re new to Indian, already an expert or even a little scared, this is the place to go in Ann Arbor – an overlooked gem on Main Street.
Decorated with a richly textured, traditionally-inspired interior with indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant caters to visitors seeking upscale, well-cooked Indian dishes. The food itself may be a little pricey (as in, you’ll probably only be eating out once this week…), but the quality and the atmosphere are consistently great.
Newbie unsure of what to try? Here’s a quick and easy guide:
Step 1: Always order naan.
Just do it. (To the uninitiated, naan is basically flattened, air-filled bread pockets, perfect for curry dipping). Shalimar offers different varieties, including naan stuffed with garlic or mint leaves, but if you’ve got any doubts stick with the plain.
Step 2: Appetizers are optional, but are a good way to break into the cuisine.
The vegetable samosas are my favorite. Crispy turnovers stuffed with potatoes, onions, peas and spices. They come two to an order, so get this bite to share. Oh, and the dipping sauces…yum.
Step 3: Ordering an entree should take this form:
For the Indian beginner, try tandoori chicken, a classic dish of mildly seasoned chicken, served sizzling still on the bone.
For the intermediate, add some of the sauces Indian cuisine is famous for. (You can handle it, promise). Try tikka masala, coconut curry or a thick korma sauce for a fairly mild, creamy sauce in lamb, chicken, seafood or vegetarian options.
Extra tip: not all options may be listed on the restaurant’s menu. However, Shalimar is good about substitutions. If you want to try a specific sauce with a different meat option, ask.
For the straight-up pro, add some spice. I mean, serious spice. All meals come with the option of mild, medium or spicy, so rev it up – and break up your routine with a new dish you’ve been eyeing. The dense green spinach sauce of lamb saag may seem unappealing, but if you’re a food daredevil, it will blow your mind.
Ann Arbor is full of decent Indian restaurants, but none are better than Shalimar. Next time you’re about to walk past this place on Main, stop in instead.
Address: 307 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104