Ever since I fell in love with Haveli Indian Cuisine last semester, I’ve been suffering from a bit of tunnel vision. I’ve tried other Indian lunch buffets but none have surpassed it.
I decided it was finally due time to snap out of this puppy love and broaden my horizons. So, this week, I travelled to the RIT area to try Royal of India.
Being that this was a buffet, naturally, I tried everything that I could get my hands on — even a few things that I’m technically not supposed to eat, but we really don’t need to dwell on that fact, even though my intestines certainly did.
I started off with a dish that I always go for — chana masala. It was truly top notch. The flavor was rich with a spice that built up after swallowing. I loved the complexity of flavor in the way that the spices were layered. Experiencing the flavor development in eating this dish was a journey. The chickpeas were stewed to perfection, creating a luxuriously creamy texture.
Another favorite(though I’m technically not supposed to eat it, but oh well) is pakora. So, I was positively delighted to try the fish fry and the vegetable fry.
The fish fry was incredibly tasty. The outside was crisp while the fish inside was still moist. Overall, the texture was a bit chewy, but in a satisfying way. The vegetable fry did not disappoint either. The best way to describe this would be to say that it tasted like an Indian bloomin’ onion. It was mainly battered, fried strands of onion. But the batter of the veggie fry, like that of the fish fry, was gorgeously seasoned with tons of vibrant spices. And this fried coating was just as wonderfully crispy as the last.
Shifting gears to another fried fancy, the veggie samosa was also greatly enjoyed. It was a bit doughier than a typical samosa. The pastry was thick, more cakey and bready than crispy, but I enjoyed the textures.
Of course, I’m a sucker for a crunchy samosa, but I did not find this alternative version of the samosa worse than the original: It was merely another variety, if you will. The inside, as is the apparent theme with all of Royal of India’s food, was seasoned to perfection.
Now let’s talk curries. I was not as impressed with the chicken curry as I was with all of the other dishes. I found the chicken dry. The flavor was nice, but not as exciting as my other options.
I enjoyed the squash curry more than the chicken. The heat was light at first and then gradually built and developed in the back of my mouth as I kept eating, as it did with some of the other dishes as well, which was nice. Overall, the flavor of the squash curry was mainly fresh and simple, not as punchy as other dishes, so it worked nicely with other elements in terms of balance of flavors.
To talk about one more chicken option, I also had to try the tandoori chicken. As with the chicken curry, I wasn’t so impressed with this one. Once again, the cook on the chicken fell short. My chicken leg was mainly dry, and then was more moist just around the bone. It was, however, very well-seasoned. And I loved the beautifully charred bits.
To end on a high note, I’ll discuss the bready options that I shouldn’t have eaten but, naturally, went ham on anyway. The bhatura was pillowy, warm, and delectable as always. It was fried to a perfect golden-brown, and the inside was that perfect balance of fluffy and chewy. Running this through the curry sauces was just heavenly. And the naan was a thing of beauty. It was light, thin, and chewy with lovely crisp edges. Plus it was extremely well-seasoned with just the perfect salt level.
Overall, Royal of India was a royal win. The theme of the night was bold, complex, well-developed flavors. Though I am still absolutely head over heels for Haveli, I would definitely be lying if I didn’t admit that I might be pretty smitten with Royal of India, as well. And the fact that the buffet that I attended was the dinner buffet and it was still only $14 for unlimited fantastic food? Now that’s the crown jewel.