Delights of India reincarnated at Lake and Emerson

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by Jeremy Iggers | March 28, 2009 • The storefront at Lake and Lyndale that was formerly Marla’s Indian cuisine has come back to life again, with the reopening of Delights of India. Before it was Marla’s, it was Natraj, and before that Moghuls, and before that, it was Delites of India, owned by B.K. and Ameeta Arora. (And if your memory stretches back that far, it started out as the vegetarian Blue Heron cafe in the late 70s.)

Iggers Digest is the blog of Jeremy Iggers, the TC Media Alliance’s executive director. Jeremy is also the creator of TCFoodies, a local food networking site.

B.K. and Ameeta had run a steakhouse in a St. Paul strip mall for a few years before that, but the Aroras are devout Hindus, and serving meat clashed with their religious beliefs. They opened Delites of India in 1984, and after B.K.’s religious initiation, the restaurant became strictly vegetarian in 1987. Their daughter, Teena Arora, who worked in the restaurant, is now a cooking instructor, restaurant consultant and personal chef in San Francisco, with a cool website, CurrySutra.com.

The Aroras retired in 1995, but continued to own the building, and when their past tenant broke the lease, and they couldn’t find a new owner, they decided to go back into business. The new Delights is strictly vegetarian, and modestly decorated with Indian religious art on the walls, and small statues of Hindu deities.

The menu features most of the same vegetarian dishes that are standard on all Indian menus, from Aloo Matar Gobi (cauliflower, peas and potatoes) to palaak paneer (homemade cheese in spinach), with most dishes priced from $10 to $12.Eventually, they hope to add dosas and other south Indian dishes. I have only sampled a few dishes, including the baighan masala, (eggplant and potatoes in a spicy sauce), and the aloo chana, a savory curry of chickpeas, mushrooms, onions and tomato – both recommended. A wine and beer license is expected soon.

Helping in the kitchen is the Arora’s son-in-law Sanjay Kumar, former chef-owner of the critically acclaimed Chutney’s Grill in Columbia Heights, which closed last year. Kumar will open his own restaurant next week – the Chicago Grill, at Lake and Emerson in northeast Minneapolis. The menu will offer steak, chicken wings and gyros, says Kumar. It’s what the neighborhood wants, says Kumar.

Delights of India, 1023 W. Lake, 612-82INDIA. (612-824-6342).

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