There’s a new Indian restaurant in town with the evocative name of Turmeric, the bright yellow spice that gives curry powder its signature hue.
It’s taken up residence in the old Zingarella space, tucked away in a wayward corner of the Glen, near the North Glenview train station. And despite what Google maps may indicate, Lehigh Avenue DOES NOT cross Lake Avenue in a useful way. That is, unless you can fly.
And while Turmeric has a bountiful—and very popular—lunch buffet ($9.99), we were sad to find out that unlike some Indian restaurants on the North Shore, it is your ONLY option at lunch. So if you’re looking for a bargain, look no further, but if you want to have a say in what dishes you dine on, plan a dinner visit.
The Joy of Warm Bread
A basket of hot, buttery Naan bread is brought to each table, along with two huge, paper-thin curls of Dosa, the lentil and rice crepe popular in Southern India. So immediately, we perked up from our disappointment. Add to that a deliciously sweet Mango Lassi ($3.49) (or a salty Lassi, if you’re feeling adventurous) and you’ve got the start of a great Indian meal.
But here’s the problem: a lot of the food on the buffet is just okay, and I would have liked it hotter in any case. Certainly warm plates would be helpful. Take a pass on the Sweet Corn Chicken Soup, which we found watery with little corn flavor. The Chicken Biryani, at least on the buffet, was dry, and the Goat Kadai Masala, the bony meat cooked with onion, tomato and bell peppers, was a little boring.
Fear not! The vegetable preparations, including the Paneer Tikka Masala (fresh Indian cheese cooked in a creamy, buttery tomato sauce; Mushrooms Manchorian, the tender caps fried in a spiced batter; and a very tasty Gobi (cauliflower) dish, were yummy. We also liked the addictively spicy Chicken Meatballs in Garlic Sauce and the velvety Chicken Tikka, the poultry first marinated in yogurt and then baked in a clay oven before melding with the creamy tomato sauce.
Southern Indian Specialties
I was also pleasantly surprised to see some other Southern Indian specialties on the buffet: Idly (steamed rice cakes) and Methu Vada, mildly spiced and fried lentil flour “donuts.” Indian food is especially friendly to those who must eat a gluten-free diet. Other than the naan, everything else on the lunch buffet was gluten-free.
The separate condiment table, laden with tangy raitha (yogurt sauce) and four chutneys (mint, tamarind, tomato and coconut), as well as the standard Indian mango pickles (watch out, they are super salty!) raw vegetables (shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onions), and fresh fruit, was generous.
Desserts on the “hot” buffet included a warm, overly sweet Rice Kheer (Indian rice pudding, cooked in milk with cardamom) and Gulab Jamoon, which are fried milk dumplings soaked in sugar syrup. Let’s just say those are an acquired taste.
There were many entrees on the dinner menu that looked tantalizing, but alas, I was reminded that it was buffet only at lunch. I’m not sure if I’ll make it back, given that I live so close to Evanston’s far superior Mt. Everest Restaurant, not to mention the great places on Devon Street. But we did note that there were many Indian customers at lunch, and they seemed to be dining with relish on the buffet offerings. So for our Glenview and Northbrook readers in the vicinity, I’d say try it out and let us know what you think.
2.5/5 stars (B-)
Turmeric Indian Restaurant
2300 Lehigh Ave, Suite 125