When the mood me hits for a full switch to another country, the madness of Devon Avenue is the perfect place to get lost.
The Ravi Kebab House, 2447 W. Devon Ave., an Indian and Pakistani restaurant directly in the heart of Devon’s exotic, Middle Eastern glory is my type of place.
When my eating buddy, Lisa, and I were seated at our choice of table, a friendly waiter presented the menu. The dishes were portrayed in color photos, which make choosing a meal quite difficult. For a couple of starving women, those pictures were pure temptation.
Lisa eyed the butter chicken cooked a clay oven, but it was carbs that were calling our name. We ordered a shish kebab naan roll, a huge bowl of channa masala (a Pakistani chickpea specialty), a griddle-fried disc of buttery whole wheat paratha bread, and a piping hot pile of flowery steamed basmati rice.
After a short wait, here comes the waiter wheeling over our platters of food. He proudly set each plate down on the table and described everything in detail.
He had barely pushed off from the table before we ripped into the heavy hunk of paratha bread. Taking each buttery tear, I dunked it into the jalapeno-heavy chickpeas and then doused it in sweet tamarind sauce and covered it in herb-flecked yogurt dip.
Add in a bite of sweet rice and you’ve got nothing but pure Indian comfort food.
The extra large shish kabab was rolled in foil and, when unfurled, the sliver of meat and sprinkle of vegetables came spilling out of just-cooked naan.
The first bite surprised us as it tasted like it had been pounded with a hammer for hours. Indian tenderizer, no?
When we finally finished, my stomach poked out like at four months. As we sloshed out the door, the cooks asked if we enjoyed our dinner. Like a happy mom-to-be, I just pointed at my round tummy and laughed, “What do you think, boys?”
THE FINAL RAVE: For a 101 in Indo/Pak cooking techniques, plop right at the front window of this eatery. Toothy smiles and happy-as-a-clam cooks included.
KEEP IT GOING:
DO IT: The Wooden Spoon, 5047 N. Clark St.
This adorable gourmet kitchenware shop offers a Nov. 30 hands-on cooking class in small plates and meze dishes, like grilled swordfish kebabs, walnut-pomegranate dip with toasted pita and other exotic delights.
READ IT: The Everything Indian Cookbook
With this easy-on-the-skills cookbook in your kitchen, there won’t be an Indian specialty you can’t master.
EAT IT: Shan’s Grocery and Restaurant, 5060 N. Sheridan Rd.
I’ve raved about it before and I still can’t get enough of the hearty (and cheap) food at this tiny restaurant tucked into the back of a mini-mart. A one-stop-shop if you will.
GET CRAZY WITH IT: Gaylord India Restaurant, 678 N. Clark St.
The masses go nuts for the buffet at this Near North all-you-can-stuffit-buffit. Be prepared to sport the Buddha belly like me. What’s so bad about that?