Healthy and delicious halal dining at Little India
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
60, BoGuan 3rd St. West District.
Hours: 11 am-2 pm,
Credit cards not accepted.
10% service charge.
Open all Chinese New Year.
While "halal" is a term used to designate foods permitted under Muslim dietary laws, a growing number of non-Muslims are also enjoying halal cuisine, which is being touted as healthy and humane. Thus, many mainstream Eastern and Western restaurants and food companies are today selling products meeting halal guidelines, which require that animals be slaughtered in a non-distressing way (cutting the jugular vein and draining the blood) and include prohibitions against consuming pork, pork by-products, blood, alcohol and birds of prey, among other things.
Taichung diners interested in enjoying food that is not just halal and all-natural, but also simply great to eat, should start by heading over to Little India, a cozy, friendly eatery that has been drawing a growing number of customers and has the distinction of being the sole city restaurant certified as halal by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia, via the Taichung Mosque. Open by Pakistani Lahore native Ali and his Taiwanese wife Even Wu back in mid-2008, Little India is located directly behind The Splendor Hotel and offers a full range of reasonably-priced Indian cuisine that has found favor with Indian, Pakistani, Muslim, Taiwanese and Western diners alike.
The menu selection of mostly northern Indian dishes is prepared by an experienced hotel chef. First-timers can start with favorites, such as the NT$300 Chicken Tikka Jalferezi (boneless Tandoori chicken with green peppers, onions and spices in sauce), Chicken Masala, NT$290 Fish Curry, NT$260 Jing Biryani (prawn with biryani dried rice sauce), and Tandoori Chicken. On the non-meat side are items like Chana Raslia Masala and a long-time favorite of this writer, Palak Paneer--cubes of Indian cottage cheese in a spinach sauce. There is also a recently-expanded kebab selection, such as Chicken or Mutton Sheekh Kebabs, or Chicken Malai (cashew and yogurt) Tikka, all grilled on a hot metal plate that preserves flavors and juiciness. Al main courses include Indian Nan bread and rice.
Another new addition from December are four business lunch specials, offered Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All include 100% fruit juice, soup or hot tea, and range from NT$90 for two samosas to NT$120 rolls (wraps), with a choice of Chicken Tikka or Mutton, Beef or Mixed kebabs. Ali and Even welcome diners to mix and match dishes and sauces to customize their orders, and buffets can be organized for groups over 20. The owners also do their best to promote culture from the Indian subcontinent, regularly hosting henna-painting sessions, Indian movies and similar events, making Little India an all-around exotic experience.
Note: Compass readers who turn up wearing articles of Indian clothing can enjoy a free cup of Masala Cha (tea) with their meal.
Left: Business Lunch
Right: Fish Tikka
Left: Chicken Malai Tikka
Right: Aoll Klucha w/ curd