Taj Flavor – Not Your Average Food Court Fare

By on May 20, 2011

It’s normally not a good idea to travel ten miles out of your way to eat dinner at the food court of a mall. But it’s a great idea if the chef at that food court establishment used to own Taj India Cuisine in Oklahoma City, which had a loyal coterie of patrons who swore it had the best Indian food in Oklahoma. It’s a great idea, in short, if you’re dining here.

Taj Flavor Tulsa Mall

The setting isn’t very inspiring: plastic chairs, plastic tables, plastic walls. Lots of other food stalls around, offering Greek, Chinese, Pizza and other questionable delights, though the dining area is common to all and I suppose you could order items from each and set up your own multinational buffet. The menu isn’t that inspiring either. Though there are one or two South Indian appetizers such as Masala Dosa and some tandoori entrees such as Kathi Kebab (which we didn’t try), most of the items have generic names such as “Chicken curry” and “lamb curry”. But what a world of spice-infused delight awaits behind those bland names!

You order at the counter, where eight or nine entrees, prepared earlier in the day, languish in vats. If you order one of those, it’s yours immediately. If you order something else, it’s cooked to order in the kitchen. Which to choose? I’ve always instinctively gone for dishes made to order just for me, but many people who know Indian food have told me that it’s better to choose something from the counter because Indian curries improve if you let them sit for a few hours. So we did both. I got the lamb curry ($9 — prices are higher than on the website or printed menu), the chef set about making it, and about 15 minutes later out it came.

You can see how rich it looks, and it tasted even better. Though I can’t identify any of the spices, except for cinnamon, cilantro and bay leaf because fresh-chopped bits of each floated in the mix, I can be sure it wasn’t made from curry powder or store-bought masala mix. Those spices were ground by hand and perfectly blended. The flavor was rich, somewhat fiery (I had requested medium hot) and very exotic, with more than a whiff of the subcontinent. The curry was accompanied by basmati rice and naan flatbread, and both were way better than average.

The basmati rice was used to fine advantage in the Chicken Biryani ($8).

Fine mellow spices, a few sprigs of sprightly mint, and some hard-boiled egg too. Which to eat first, the chicken or the egg? They’re both great.

Betty ordered the Chicken Combo ($8.50), which comes from the ready-made counter. I’d been staring longingly at the lovely vegetable curries, which so many people say are the star of the show in any Indian restaurant, and I’d asked if any came with my lamb. No, I was told. And then when it came time to serve Betty, the owner gave her a big helping of dal, along with two kinds of chicken (regular curry and tikka masala). That’s not fair! I said. And I didn’t get to taste any. But it looked so good!

Next time, I’ll order that. But I made up for it by ordering (after a long wait while a woman in a sari placed an order) a sweet mango lassi ($3) as a kind of dessert. Mango mixed with yogurt in a traditional Indian smoothie. It was so good I forgot to take a photo.

Taj — The Flavor
Food Court, Promenade Mall
4107 S. Yale Ave.
Tulsa, OK
(918) 270-2710
www.tajflavor.com (prices are higher than on website menu)
Open 11 AM to 9 PM every day (except Sunday closes at 6 PM)

Taj - The Flavor on Urbanspoon

Brian Schwartz: Author

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

12 Comments

  1. Nantz

    May 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I love your writing! Very clever, and I’m not a big fan of Indian food, but you’ve convinced me. I will go try them out at the Promenade Mall, maybe there will be some clothing slaes too.

    • Brian Schwartz

      May 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      I hope you enjoy it and I’m thrilled you love my writing. I work hard to do it.

  2. Cathi

    May 23, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I stopped by there Friday night. After reading the memo for a bit I was asked if they could help me. I asked if they had butter chicken because I didn’t see it on the menu. I was quickly told yes and someone went off to the kitchen. Not long after I received some butter chicken, rice and fresh naan. It was really good! Great food and excellent service – we’ll definitely be heading back!

    • Brian Schwartz

      May 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      This is very interesting! I wonder what other things you can get that aren’t on the menu.

  3. dancinhomer

    May 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    This place is ALL KINDS of awesome! They can make a lot of dishes that aren’t on the menu. The lamb curry and chicken biryani are two of the standouts, though. That chicken wrap is also fantastic. Great people, great service, great grub for a great price!

  4. Pingback: Spice Up Your Meals with Taj-The Flavor in Tulsa | The Tribune Lofts-Tulsa 1 2 Bedrooms

  5. Scott

    June 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I made it to try this place last week and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not the best Indian food I’ve had but it’s a nice change from the other places in Tulsa. They have the standard dishes you typically see in Indian restaurants here, e.g. chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, etc. but the flavoring is a bit different than those other Tulsa places.

  6. tulsa_ld

    July 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    -I wish i had more time tonight to create a proper review, but i will note that my Chicken combo did not come with the extra chicken on the rice. The food was flavorful and for ‘mall food’ i was surprised.

    I even asked for it. Then offered to pay an extra buck for it. No dice.

    Sometimes it pays to be a reviewer, i suppose. That is not a negative to Tulsa Food, mind you, simply an obvious observation.

    tulsa_ld

    • Brian Schwartz

      July 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

      No, it pays to be a charming elderly lady. That’s who got the chicken combo. I didn’t even get a taste. They had no way of knowing I was a reviewer. I didn’t even take food photos until after the dishes were served.

  7. Pingback: Elegance, Charm and Good Indian Food at India Palace | Tulsa Food

  8. Brian Schwartz

    March 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Taj Flavor has moved. The good news: they now have their own building, offering lunch buffet and dinner entrees. The bad news: they are in Bartlesville.
    http://www.tajflavor.com/

    • Karen

      April 5, 2013 at 11:21 am

      Not bad news if you live in Bartlesville. We love it! Finally, a place to get great vegetarian dishes.

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