Slightly east of South Ashland Ave. and Taylor there is a hole-in-the-wall set within a garden apartment which holds one of the best Indian restaurants south of Devon Ave. Taj-Mahal is a small, family owned and operated establishment located in the gateway of a culinary playground as diverse as the people that live in the area. Walking into this hidden gem, the first thing I noticed was its cozy size. Normally, a small place is as comfortable as it is conducive to good conversation. Taj-Mahal differs in this aspect. In place of a musical device spewing its soft ethnic melodies (as is typical in ethnic restaurants), the patron is instead entertained and distracted by a seemingly constant stream of Bollywood music videos coming from an obscenely large television in the corner of the room. After being seated, a waiter, as per usual, comes around to hand you a menu.
Taj-Mahal makes up for what it lacks in atmosphere with the stellar quality of the food. They offer a variety of traditional Indian cuisine from the ever-present samosa to my personal favorite soya biryani. If you are a first timer to Indian food: (a.) get a life and (b.) lucky for you they offer all of their meals in mild or traditional. Being the masochist that I am, I generally get it traditional, which is apparently code for mind numbingly spicy. This location is frequented by college students for good reason. It’s open late and easy on the pockets. I recommend going with a small group of friends and creating your own tasting party.The generous servings are more than enough for sharing with a friend or two. Provecho!