Indian food is prolific in Chicago.  The city’s Little India is located in Edgewater and stretches ten city blocks down Devon Ave.  Unfortunately, Little India is sketchy as hell.  Farmer Damon ventured down there with a South Asian friend in town from Cleveland a few years back.  Ramesh was robbed in broad daylight.  Thus, Jeff and I have never felt a sufficiently strong urge to venture there, especially when CTA logistics come into play.  I’m sure the area boasts excellent food, but I cannot say.  Other Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistani restaurants litter the city.  Of the ones we’ve tried – Mt. Everest (Evanston), Hema’s Kitchen, Arya Bhagavan, and Raj Darbar – only the latter could be considered really good.  Plus, Raj Darbar delivers, at least until they found out exactly how far away we were from the restaurant.  I still contend that it isn’t that far.

The gentle currents of circumstance recently took us to an evening we declared “take-out” night.  Jeff was surfing GrubHub for options.  I was pouring a cocktail in the kitchen while chewing on the little faith I have in that website as it reveals nothing I don’t already know:  pizza, tacos, Pan-Asian.  Who will deliver me great Indian food at this hour?  No one.

Jeff speaks from the other room.  “Kitten, I found an Indian place that will deliver.”

“Is it Arya Bhagavan?  We ordered from there once.  That was the one that took three hours and it’s all vegetarian food.”

“No.  It’s called Him…Hi…”

I looked over his shoulder, expecting yet another overpriced greasy spoon named after the Himalayas.  To my surprise, it wasn’t.  I’d never heard of Himshikar before.  We scrolled through the short, but relatively comprehensive menu of Indian and Nepali offerings.  They had momos.  That was enough for me to give it a try, but I wasn’t yet willing to divest my cynicism.  Chicago has broken my heart numerous times with its facade of metropolitan abundance, especially when things dear to me are involved. (ed. note:  Yes, I take Indian food that seriously.)

The food arrived in forty-five minutes, which is impressive considering Himshikar is located on N. Cicero.  Jeff commented that it smelled wonderful, but I remained skeptical since curry is similar to garlic.  The pleasing scent often masks shitty food.  We divided the spoils across the hope chest – saag gosht (lamb with spinach) for Jeff and rogan gosht (Kashmir style lamb curry) for me.  Chicken momos, samosas, peas pulao and garlic naan went in the middle for sharing.  Deep in the bag we found additional rice, which was a pleasant surprise since most South Asian restaurants in Chicago do not serve that important accompaniment free gratis.  In fact, this endeared me to Himshikar because the separate rice thing has been putting my teeth on edge since London 2006.  We were presented with the usual chutneys – cilantro and tamarind – as well as something I will call “magic chutney X.”  Neither of us knew what it came with, just that it looked like salsa verde and tasted like smoky, spicy, South Asian  inspired sex.  We tried it with the momos first since the traditional red dipping sauce was missing.  Nom, but I still prefer yak.  Chicken is too close to wontons or gyoza and that’s when I start getting political.

We tried it on the impossibly flaky samosas that broke open to reveal creamy potato chunks and peas seasoned just right with cumin.  NOM.

We dipped manageable hunks of warm, soft garlic naan torn from pieces the size of LPs.  Holy shit!

We refrained from adding it to our entrees because they were perfect.  Jeff’s was held together by just enough magic to bring out the flavor of spinach and unite it with lamb.  Mine was a rich, spicy red sauce that featured a heart-stopping layer of separated fat on top that somehow didn’t make the dish greasy at all.

Needless to say, we gorged ourselves and did it again last night for our fuck-yeah-it’s-Friday feast.  As it turns out, magic chutney X is supposed to go with the momos.  We requested extra as a bit of science since the research I’ve conducted on the matter has been inconclusive.  If any of you know what it is, please speak up.

Himshikar Nepali and Indian is located at 6031 N. Cicero Ave.  Go there.  We certainly will and we will kiss their cheeks and thank them.

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