I like to think of myself as an articulate person. Yet, every once in a while I eat a dish so delicious and flavourful that my ability to describe it between mouthfuls regresses to that of a giggling five year old. This happens every time I eat at Darjeeling.
Darjeeling is an Indian-Tibetan restaurant on Route d’Arlon in Capellen, and once you try it, you can’t help but quickly become a regular. Upon arrival, you are greeted warmly by the staff and this hospitality continues throughout the entire meal. The fresh scents wafting from the kitchen are a promise of tantalizing dishes to come, and the bright colours, ornate ceiling and calming music create a cosy atmosphere.
The menu is rich, and presents a paradox of choice to the eager diner. Everything sounds delicious, and there is a dish for everyone – lamb lovers, vegetarians, seafood enthusiasts, and tandoori aficionados. In an attempt to simplify the decision making process, I frequent Darjeeling during the day and order off the lunch menu. For a fair price of €9.80, you choose a starter (soup, bhajee, or samosa) and one of seven mouth-watering curries, which come with rice and naan. The onion bhajees are dense, and fresh, and you can taste the flavor of the spices and vegetables, and not just the oil, as is so common in other Indian restaurants.
For a main, my hands down, all time favourite is the mixed vegetable curry. There are so many intricate flavours in each bite and the sauce is utter perfection – not too creamy, not too oily, just divine. My husband raves about the lamb curry – it is tender, high quality meat, and the sauce has a distinct and memorable tang.
Darjeeling’s real gem of a dish is found on the Tibetan menu. Number 77, chhyu fyashya chhem. I can’t pronounce it properly, but it doesn’t matter anyway because two bites of this curry render me speechless.
The description (“chicken pieces cooked with cheese in Tibetan style”) seems unoriginal, yet this dish is anything but. It is simply tantalizing — slightly sour, with refreshing, sweet undertones, and so many little flavours that you can’t even begin to identify. It is a nuanced and inspiring dish, and once you start craving this memorable flavor, nothing else will do…
One of the greatest things about Darjeeling is the chef’s consistency: every time I have eaten at Darjeeling there have been generous chunks of meat/vegetables in the curries. I’ve left other Indian restaurants after a second visit, feeling unimpressed, as if I had gone to a completely different place from the first time, and paid 15€ for a curry sauce with a few measly bits of chewy chicken or thawed vegetables. This is not the case at Darjeeling. There is a generous amount of meat/vegetable in the dishes each time, and all of it is high quality, and indicative of the pride the chefs take in their work.
Another thing I love about Darjeeling? When you request a dish to be cooked spicy or extra spicy, it is.
I suggest you try at least one dish with a bit of extra spice; it will bring out the flavours even more. And if it’s too spicy for you, well… you can always cool your palate with a cold Indian beer, a satisfying lassi, or an exceptional mango kulfi for dessert.
Has this whet your appetite? If you’re wise enough to know delicious food is best enjoyed in elastic waistband pants, you can order Darjeeling take-out or delivery (if spending >€30) instead. I would suggest making a reservation if you try it out at lunch, as it is often packed with hungry, Darjeeling devotees at this hour. And yes, one of those devotees is likely to be me….
Where: 19 Route d’Arlon, L-8310, Capellen (map)
When: Monday-Saturday, 12:00-14:00, 18:00-23:00
Damage: Average main €15
Contact: +352 30 71 76
Featured Photo: Karrie Zych