It’s not like there’s a shortage of decent Indian food along Racecourse Rd. But, naming no names (this time, at least), some places have been cruising on their reputation for too long. Eating at the busiest spots is usually a good indication that the place is worth visiting; but sometimes an almost-empty room can simply mean people don’t know what they’re missing out on. So it is with Mustard, a restaurant specializing in Bengali and Punjabi cuisine, occupying a modest space in the shadow of its bigger and better known neighbors.
Eating here is a truly delightful experience; it might just be the best mid-priced Indian in town. The two regions are united by their love of one condiment: the titular mustard; but you’d hardly know it from the subtleties of flavor and wonderfully varied dishes on offer. We put ourselves in our waiter’s hands, and he certainly came up trumps (even if he did look somewhat distracted by the cricket world cup final unfolding as we ate: We forgave him, it was a real nail-biter after all).
The undoubted star (of the meal, not the match) was the coconut prawn curry ($18.90), a rich and spicy dish served, unexpectedly, inside a coconut, and boasting prawns big enough to have us half-wondering how they’d squeezed them in: A ship in a bottle for discerning foodies. The boneless chicken curry ($15.90) was spicier still (to be fair, we had asked for it that way), but the meat was tender and we were still dipping our tandoori rotis ($2.90) in the sauce long after we should have admitted defeat. After all, we’d already made light work of the kosha mansho (sautéed mutton curry, $15.90) which, while less of a spicy showboat, impressed everyone at the table. And the dishes kept on coming: A still simmering aloo gobhi ($12.90) with great hunks of cauliflower; and a moreish dal tadka ($11.90), yellow lentils cooked to creamy, cumin perfection, which could have served as a meal in its own right.
The food took its time to arrive—a good twenty minutes or more—but the menu had warned of this; and for an evening this good, we’d wait a lot longer. Hell, India waited 28 years for theirs.