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Taj: One of Israel’s few kosher Indian restaurants

SC 05/08/2021


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For lovers of authentic Indian food, the journey to Or Akiva – which in our case took under an hour – is worth the effort.
We met a couple from Jerusalem and another from Haifa – all of us on a quest for some Indian home cooking.

Moshe Solomon, the owner, was born in Israel to Indian parents who immigrated from Mumbai (Bombay) in 1973. It’s a family affair. Mother, Naomi, does all the cooking, while Moshe waits on tables and is a very welcoming host.
Next door, Moshe’s brother, Eliav, runs an ice-cream emporium.
The not extensive menu is printed on a laminated washable card with pictures of all the food in case you can’t read Hebrew. Like most Indians, Moshe speaks very good English, as well as Hebrew.
We sat outside in the covered patio which Moshe had built himself and studied the menu. Everything is chicken-based or vegetarian. There is no beef available, which I suppose is faithful to the Hindu belief in the sacred cow.
We began our meal with a shared platter of samosa, triangular pastry cases filled with a mixture of potatoes, peas and spices. The crispy yeast dough was thin, and the filling spiced but not too bland.
There were three accompanying dips – a coriander and coconut chutney in a lovely shade of Nile green; a tomato-based spicy mix; and a dish of sweet mashed carrot and spices. Each addition provided a range of different flavors to combine with the samosa, and made for an exotic starter (NIS 27).
For a main course we had to try the curried chicken, which is such a staple of Indian cuisine.
This was a chicken quarter, well but not overcooked, in a thick curry sauce which was as full of flavor as one would expect. It was mildly hot – we would have preferred hotter (not in temperature but in taste), but we understood that it has to be made to accommodate Western palates (NIS 59). The creaminess of the sauce was thanks to the coconut milk used as a substitute for dairy.
It came with a bowl of basmati rice, every grain separate, as it should be.
The second main course was Chicken Biryani, a rice-based dish filled with more chunks of chicken and garnished with roasted peanuts. Again, the taste of Indian spices produced a flavor difficult to achieve at home (NIS 59).
The liquid accompaniment to all this was a jug of ice-cold water. No alcohol is available at Taj.
We asked Moshe if there were any desserts.
“No, Indian desserts are usually dairy, so we can’t do them,” he said unblinkingly.
“Watermelon?” we suggested.
Moshe looked horrified.
“It’s not Indian,” he asserted – and that was the final word on the subject.
Taj
Kosher
2 Rothschild Or Akiva 058-538-8440
Open: Sun.-Thurs., 12 noon until late. Call first.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.

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SC

Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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