"...À la carte selections offer more variety. Appetizers such as samosas or pakoras are very easy for first-time diners. Both are deep-fried dumplings..."
- North Shore Magazine
"...Thanks to the owner who hails from Nepal. the standard Indian Menu also offers a handful of Nepalese specialties, the best of which are the mo mo packed with spiced chicken..."
- Time Out Chicago : Eat out Curry Hut (5/25/2006)
North Shore Magazine
CURRY HUT What used to be Two Guys from Italy now could be called A Few Guys from India. Actually, it’s called Curry Hut, and Highwood finally has its first Indian restaurant. But there’s a lot more going on here than curry.
Indian food is known for its complexity, its subtleties and its seasonings. Most Indian restaurants in the Chicago area, including Curry Hut, present North Indian cooking. Curry Hut goes further by including several choices from neighboring Nepal.
Some people associate Indian foods with peppery seasonings so hot they make you sweat. The truth is, the flavors are not uniform.
The easiest approach is to order one of two special combination dinners. They are relatively inexpensive and offer a variety of tastes and textures. The Curry Hut special dinner is a vegetarian meal, while its companion includes chicken, seafood, shrimp and lamb.
Both are quite good, though on one occasion the fish tikka was strong, the meats overcooked. The rich butter and vegetable sauces, however, make up for any minor lapses.
À la carte selections offer more variety. Appetizers such as samosas or pakoras are very easy for first-time diners. Both are deep-fried dumplings. Samosas are triangular and filled with meat or vegetables. Pakoras are vegetable-filled chick pea-floured crusts accompanied by three sauces.
Now, to the subject of tandoori cooking. A tandoor is a deep clay oven set over hot coals. Lamb, chicken and seafood are basted with a bright-red yogurt sauce and set on the inside of the tandoor to roast. Tandoori can be ordered à la carte as a dinner entrée.
Dal, or black lentils simmered with ginger, tomatoes and mild seasonings, is one of my favorites. We recently ordered mixed vegetables with cashews and fruits. We got a tasty mix, but it showed no sign of either cashew or fruit flavors.
Try the mild lamb curry, which proves that not all curries, by definition, need be hot. But should you want to splurge, curried lobster is the way to go: big chunks of lobster meat bathed in a mild yogurt sauce with garlic, ginger and cardamom. To soak up the sauces, order one of the nans, puffed warm breads, which rise and bubble from the hot tandoor surface on which they are baked.
Indian desserts can be intensely sweet and very delicious. I love the sweetened cheese called rasmali, or the Indian version of ice cream called kulfi. A cup of hot tea is the ideal companion.
Expect to spend under $50 a couple plus add-ons. Curry Hut has a K/RATING of 17/20.
Sherman Kaplan is midday drive co-news anchor and restaurant critic for NEWSRADIO 780 WBBM. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time Out Chicago : Eat out Curry Hut
North Suburban diners can skip the trek to Devon Avenue and settle into this comfy spot. Thanks to an owner who hails from Nepal, the standard Indian menu also offers a handful of Nepalese specialties, the best of which are the mo mo dumplings packed with spiced chicken and served with fiery, creamy achaar dipping sauce; the mild braised goat in tomato-based curry; and the rich trio of black-eyed peas, bamboo shoots and potatoes. Of the Indian items, the vegetarian “special dinner” is delicious, and anything done “vindaloo” is no joke, so order it only if your tongue can handle a scorching. The $9 lunch buffet is a good way to sample the menu without breaking the bank.
410 Sheridan Ave,
Average main course: $12.
"...Its exceptionally talented chefs serve up a lot more than curry, and the earth-toned, skillfully lit 125- capacity dining room in no way resembles a hut..."
- What’s Happening Highland Park : Curry Hut By Mimika (1/14/2006)
What’s Happening Highland Park : Curry Hut By Mimika
Curry Hut By Mimika
For years Highwood has served the North Shore as a culinary microcosm of Chicago.. .except it lacked an Indian restaurant. Fortunately that void has been filled by an excellent addition: the Curry Hut (410 Sheridan Rd., Highwood, 847-432-2889). Its exceptionally talented chefs serve up a lot more than curry, and the earth-toned, skillfully lit 125- capacity dining room in no way resembles a hut. Manager Bala Ghimire is one of the most courteous, professional and competent restaurant managers I’ve ever met. His twenty years of experience in the restaurant business is reflected in his extremely thorough and exacting standards for the Curry Hut. His friendly personality and gracious demeanor make diners feel welcome and comfortable.
The 3 chefs take great pride in their excellent menu, written by Executive ChefTek Chand, who specializes in Nepali cuisine and has studied culinary arts in Nepal. Babu Krishna, K.C. specializes in Indian cuisine, and Mohan K.C. serves as the Tandoori Chef.
We arrived late on a rainy Friday night, after the dinner rush, and were greeted warmly by Bala and the host. The simple, attractive decor includes earth-toned walls, white tablecloths and soft lighting. Our group of 5 included one connoisseur of Indian cuisine, and one young woman who had never tasted Indian food and was a bit apprehensive. Bala explained that his chefs can prepare menu items at any level ofspiciness on a scale of 1 to 100. There’s truly something for everyone, and all of us were delighted with our experience.
Upon being seated, our server brought a large basket ofPapadams with assorted dipping sauces. Papadam is a crispy and extremely thin stone ground cracker made of lentil and cumin seed. The exotic and wonderfully savory flavors are a great way to start the meal. We began with a round of Mango Lassi, a fantastic combination of yogurt and fruit, an alternative to the extensive list of choices from the wine or beer menu. After that, we sampled 2 Indian beers: the Taj Mahal, a light and flavor fill choice, and the Flying Horse Royal Lager, another light and somewhat more exotic-tasting beer.
From the appetizer list we sampled the Chef’s Special Assorted Appetizers, an assortment of vegetable fritters; and three Tandoori preparations: Chicken Tikka, white meat with yogurt and spices, roasted in a tandoori oven; Booti Kabab, offender marinated lamb; and SeekKabab, of minced lamb in a secret house marinade. We also enjoyed Vegetable Samosas, deep fried cone pastry stuffed with green peas, potatoes and fresh coriander leaves. Finally, we tasted a very special appetizer from the Nepali menu called the Momo, a steamed wheat dumpling filled with minced chicken and Nepali spices, served with a truly great Nepali mustard-like sauce called Achaar. This should quickly become a signature appetizer of this restaurant. The Momo is exotic enough to please the thrill-seeking ethnic diner, yet mild and universally tasty enough to delight the first-time Indian diner as well. All of these delectable appetizers are plentiful, and substantial enough as a meal in themselves. Appetizers range from $3.95 to $7.95.
From the main entrees we tasted a variety of vegetable and meat preparations. Every one was delicious. In order of my preference: Lamb Curry, delicious and surprisingly mild succulent pieces of lamb cooked in onions and tomatoes with a cardamom flavored sauce; Jhane Ko Dal, yellow lentil cooked to perfection in a traditional Nepalese Wok with Himalayan Herbs and spices; Chicken Tikka Masala, chunks of chicken (white meat) roasted in a clay oven and folded into a cream sauce; and Tandoori Chicken, whole chicken marinated in a yogurt blend of colorful Indian herbs and spices and roasted in a Tandoori oven. As a vegetable special we enjoyed the Indian staple PanakPaneer, fresh spinach cooked with delicately spiced cheese cubes. This spinach is chopped fine and almost reaches the consistency of a thick and creamy sauce. (Prices: $8.95- $14.95… $21.95 for lobster!) The entrees were accompanied by a lovely assortment ofNaan, delicious Indian flatbread in three flavors: plain, onion and garlic.
The desserts are small and sweet, and presented very tastefully. We had Kheer, a fragrant rice pudding with finely chopped raisins and almonds served cold. Memorable and delicious. We also tried an Indian favorite, Gulab Jamun, golden fried dumplings of milk pastry soaked in sweet saffron syrup and served hot. These were perfectly prepared and absolutely delightful. Finally we enjoyed Kulfi, a homemade ice cream that comes in pistachio, mango and orange – nobody should dine at the Curry Hut without enjoying this delicate and universally appealing dessert. All desserts are $3.95. Our magnificent dining experience concluded with a cup of Masala, an Indian aromatic tea made of the highest grade of choice tea leaves, boiled with milk and selected spices. After the meal, Bala invited us into the spotless kitchen to see the amazing tandoori ovens. The large clay cookers bum wood coals and food is roasted at 800 degrees. We watched the Naan bake in the oven, which took a total of 2 minutes. It was fascinating to watch the dough bubble on the inside of the oven walls and transform into the delicious bread we’d just enjoyed.
Anyone who has enjoyed Indian cuisine will agree the experience is to the taste buds as a symphony is to the ears. The chefs at the Curry Hut have directed all their great talents and efforts at providing an ideal Indian dining experience to its North Shore clientele. I believe we’re lucky to have this fine jewel among our North Shore restaurants. I want to emphasize that the Curry Hut is an excellent choice for first-time diners of Indian food, because the highly skilled chefs will make sure you are not overwhelmed. Enjoy!!
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"...My favorite Nepalese dishes were mo mo (the name alone makes it irresistible)-dumplings of spiced minced chicken that looked Chinese but had a distinctive sauce, a mustardlike achar-and khasi ko maasu, tender goat meat braised on the bone with herbs and spices..."
- Chicago Magazine : Dining Out (12/10/2006)
"...You can't miss the Curry Hut in Highwood - just keep an eye open for the curry-colored awnings that frame the two windows in front..."
- Chicago Sun Time : Spicing up Suberbia (8/12/2007)
2007 Best Dishes MOMO from CURRYHUT
- Chicago 124 Best Dishes – Mo Mo DUMPLINGS – Curry Hut (11/1/2007)
Chicago Magazine : Dining Out
Curry Hut, Highwood’s first Indian restaurant, resides a stone’s throw from a north suburban Metra station. The owner, Bala Ghimire, leads the efficient and courteous service team and presides over a white-tablecloth dining room spiffy and simple with swag drapery, peach walls, and blond wood chairs. Hardly a hut, this is a lovely space for executive chef Tek Chand’s Indian and Nepalese dishes. The two countries-each a part of Chand’s heritage-have similar culinary traditions.
I was impressed with all the de rigueur Indian appetizers, from paneer pakora-homemade cheese deep-fried in garbanzo batter-to three kinds of zesty samosas: chicken, lamb, and vegetable. (Go with lamb.) A companion also loved his clove-scented lentil and vegetable soup-after a spoonful I agreed with him.By all means try a few of the ten tandoori breads; the simple naan and roti are fine, but the piazi kulcha stuffed with onion and cilantro and the keema naan stuffed with minced lamb are really special.
Chand’s expertise with Indian classics is undeniable: the chicken tikka masala is tender, the tandoori prawns truly exceptional, and several lamb dishes stand out. Of course there’s a lamb curry, cooked in tomatoes and onions with a cardamom-dominated sauce. As usual, the lamb vindaloo, chunks of meat marinated and cooked in a sauce of vinegar, hot chilies, spices, and mustard oil, is fiery-with potatoes to make the dish authentically Goan. Three juicy and flavorful tandoori-roasted lamb chops, with a thick spice coating, arrive on a sizzling platter in a bed of raw vegetables with lemon wedges, meant to be squeezed over the chops for a final flourish. Gosht biryani-a generous platter of saffron-scented balsamic rice with spices and chunks of lamb-is perfect for sharing.
My favorite Nepalese dishes were mo mo (the name alone makes it irresistible)-dumplings of spiced minced chicken that looked Chinese but had a distinctive sauce, a mustardlike achar-and khasi ko maasu, tender goat meat braised on the bone with herbs and spices. Both were less oily than most Indian food, though I confess it was hard for me to detect what exactly was different about the “Himalayan herbs and spices” other than the achar.
Curry Hut’s mango kulfi is not as elegant as Marigold’s, but the mango flavor alone makes it a winner; the gulab jamun was just as tasty as the one at India House. Indian wines are listed strictly by the glass, but when I asked if they could be had by the bottle, the waiter recommended the 2006 Sula Vineyards syrah ($30). It’s one of the first Indian wines I’ve tasted and its style convinced me that India’s vineyards, just like these three very good restaurants, have a future.
Curry Hut-410 Sheridan Road, Highwood; www.curryhutrestaurant.com. Appetizers $3.50 to $12.95; entrées $8.95 to $24.95; desserts $3.50 to $3.95. Lunch and dinner daily. Reservations: 847-432-2889.
Chicago Sun Time : Spicing up Suberbia
You can’t miss the Curry Hut in Highwood – just keep an eye open for the curry-colored awnings that frame the two windows in front. (Highwood regulars will remember the Curry Hut space as an Italian restaurant called Two Guys from Italy.) If you have a hankering for Indian food, it would do you well to look at what’s behind those awnings. The menu here is about as ambitious as you will find, so you will find – vegetarian or not choices as broad as the subcontinent itself.
One section on the menu deals with Nepalese dishes, but don’t get too carried way – it is hard enough to get people to understand the basic approach (seasonings, etc.) to real Indian cooking as it is. However, if you love to explore and delve into world cuisines, the Curry Hut does feature an interesting goat dish, a Nepali bread, and several highly seasoned (using “Himalayan herbs and spices”) chicken and vegetable dishes. It’s an entire new take on the exotic spicing that that part of the world has to offer. The Curry Hut is one of maybe two or three Indian restaurants in the north and northwest suburbs, so I would not be stretching things by saying it is one of the best. Curry Hut can hold its own with any Indian restaurant in the city, Don’t get me wrong. I am not about to drive from the city to Highwood just to eat Indian food. However, should I be in that neck of the woods, this would be my go-to Indian restaurant without question.
It’s all about the spicing when it comes to Indian food, the understanding that the kitchen has when it comes to the proper usage of spices – masala in Hindi. Masala has several interpretations. In the culinary world it refers to a mixture of spices for a particular dish (and, of course, the amount and variety used). In informal usage, masala refers to a hodgepodge of elements mixed together to add spice to the final product. Garam masala refers to a premade mixture of spices (three or four in a simple recipe; possibly 10 in a more complex version) used to flavor foods (tandoori masala for chicken is one example). To take it one step further, in India, movies that are made up of a mixture of several things are called “masala movies.” You get the idea.
The cooks in the kitchen at the Curry Hut have the spicing idea down pat. One dish that didn’t quite cut it for me was the shrimp Madras, but then I have never been a fan of the shrimp and coconut relationship. Other than that I was more than pleased. (Once again it is necessary for me to offer full disclosure by letting you know that I have been to India. A few years ago I spent two weeks in and around Chennai [Madras], so I got to sample a good deal of the food, albeit in one particular area. And while the cooking in India is as diverse as its regions – as it is in Italy – the idea of flavor from region to region follows a certain pattern.)
Commonplace but enjoyable was chicken pakora, nuggets of chicken that had been marinated, spiced, given a turn in the tandoor, battered, deep-fried and served with dipping sauces. Nothing to let loose a barrage of adjectives about, just interesting eating.
However, there is so much more on this menu to enjoy that too many appetizers (the pakora) or even a salad would be a waste. More to enjoy, like breads. I am as nuts about Indian breads as I am pizza, and Curry Hut has a wealth of interesting breads to savor and enjoy. Straight away naan is excellent, but there are two that I particularly favor – kulcha (stuffed with onions and cilantro), and keema (minced lamb stuffing), The problem is that it is hard to stop eating this bread; one bite and I am off and running.
wheelchair accessible. Try: Tandoori chicken, lamb curry, tandoori breads, basmati rice, rice pudding. In a bite: The lunch buffet is a deal ($8.95) and includes a good representation of what the menu is all about. The dining space is comfortable and eye-pleasing. Tablecloths grace the tables, and swag drapery graces the windows. Low ceilings amp up the noise level when the place is full. A whole lot of arches (OK, so there is still a kind of Italian feel to the space). Service is right on the money and very accommodating. Good for children. Reservations accepted. Nice banquet rooms. Outdoor dining, too.
My favorite main dish to have with Indian bread is the classic tandoori chicken. Marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in the tandoor until it turned an appealing shade of red (the dramatic red color comes from the tandoori paste rubbed on the chicken), the chicken was tender, moist, and the light spicing let the flavor come through quite magnificently.
Vegetable dishes are by the dozen. I love eggplant any which way, and the oven-roasted and mashed eggplant spread (beautifully spiced) was another pleasure, scooped up with chunks of bread.
Aloogobi is a veggie dish made up of cauliflower and potatoes with a light sauce that hints of ginger. It was quite good. Under the Nepalese entree choices, a similar dish is called tarekoaloo. I had one of each on two separate visits. Though the Nepalese dish boasts Himalayan spices, I couldn’t pick up much of a difference in overall flavor. What does it matter? They were both enjoyable, except I was looking for some kind of Nepalese spice experience.
Lamb curry was a winner. In a restaurant called the Curry Hut, it had better be. Chunks of tender lamb mixed it up with onions and tomatoes in a light cardamom-scented gravy of a sort.
Pair that lamb with one of the rice dishes (a good half-dozen to choose from) that include peas and a hint of saffron. It does wonders for the lamb, and the lamb does wonders for the rice.
Seafood dishes number a few, but I am not big on seafood in Indian restaurants. I find that some of the spicing is a bit too much in relation to the milder seafood offerings. I am much more comfortable with chicken, lamb, vegetables and breads. A personal choice, without question.
Desserts are personal, too. I favor but one – kheer, which is Indian rice pudding. I totally enjoy the aromatics in Indian pudding, along with the raisins and almonds in this version. There is a milk pastry dumpling that is fried and laced with a honey syrup (“gulabjamn,”), but it is way too sweet for my tooth.
Pat Bruno is a local free-lance writer, critic and author.
Chicago 124 Best Dishes – Mo Mo DUMPLINGS – Curry Hut
Nepalese cooking isn’t exactly the in cuisine around town, but Curry Hut’s Indian menu includes authentic dishes from this remote Himalayan country. Delectable mo mo dumplings of spiced minced chicken reflect a Chinese influence via Tibet, but the accompanying mustard like Nepali achar sauce delivers a kick more like indian chutney.
410 Sheridan Rd. Highwood;