Black Cardamom

Black cardamom (also known as brown cardamom, elaichi, thảo quả and tsao-ko) is a plant in the family Zingiberaceae. Its seed pods have a strong camphor-like flavor. The pods are used as a spice, in a manner similar to the regular Indian cardamom pods, but those have a drastically different flavor. Unlike green cardamom, this spice is rarely used in sweet dishes and has a smoky taste.

Culinary Uses
Black cardamom is used as a primary component in the Indian and Nepali spice blend garam masala, along with coriander seeds, black pepper, cloves, and cinnamon. It pairs well with other “heating spices,” and is excellent in rice dishes and curries containing either meat or vegetables.

Medicinal Benefits
It is broadly used to treat infections in teeth and gums, to prevent and treat throat troubles, congestion of the lungs and pulmonary tuberculosis, inflammation of eyelids and also digestive disorders.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Black Cardamom
The most famous entrees with Black Cardamom are: Peas Pulav, Briyani, Lamb Curry

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Himalayan Restaurant: Beer and Indian Food Paring

By Kent Palmer from Chicago

Beer and Indian Food

I had the pleasure the other sunny day to visit a Chicago-area Indian restaurant to pair the food with authentic Nepali and Indian cuisine.

In the foot hills of Bloomingdale’s Stratford Square MallThe Himalayan serves delicious fare. Open at this location on Army Trail Road for less than two years, a Chicago city secret, their Niles location in has been a local fav for eight years now.

A vegetarian, I have found it challenging to find food to eat that respects my diet when I go out to eat. An exception is Indian food. The Indian culture, whether through tradition or karma – does not include animal flesh or fat.

In order to sample different flavors and dishes I chose to sample the buffet.

Vegetable biryani was yummy with rice. The daal makhani was delightful and not too spicy. But what blew me away was the paneer tikka masala, homemade paneer – firm farmers cheese – in a creamy, flavorful sauce. I enjoyed the salad on the side to cool my palate, although there were plenty of condiments to hep things up if I wanted. Meat eaters would enjoy the peppers stuffed with tandoori-chicken and vegetables, a chef’s special.

Owner Vivek told me that all the food for the buffet is prepared fresh that morning and I could believe it.

For afters, I had the most delicious dessert I have tasted in a long while, the mango ice cream. If it was possible I might try to subsist on this frozen, flavored foray, but my pancreas says, ‘No’.

My beer of choice was Taj Mahal, a 20-ounce bottle of classic lager, a beer for the connoisseur. Somehow I remember a line from the sci-fi classic Red Dwarf noting that the only thing that can kill a curry is a good lager. A Royal Challenge might be a choice for another day.

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Himalayan Restaurant: A Culinary Journey to Nepal

By Vivian & Michelle from

Recently Vivian and I were lucky enough to be invited by Kiran and Jennifer of Himalayan Restaurant to do a tasting of their menu, which is Indian and Nepali cuisine.  Being the food whores that we are, we jumped at the chance to try something new and exciting!  With Kiran, the owner, as our guide, we took a gastromomic journey to Nepal!

Don’t let the location fool you!  Vivian and I visited the Niles location, which is located in a strip mall.  The interior is simple and comfortable.  You might even call it “fancy” since the tables have real white tablecloths!  We went for a late weekend lunch, thinking we’d miss the crowd, but the place was still packed with Indian families having lunch!  We took this as a sign that we were in for a real treat!

First we started with a few appetizers from the buffet.  Most of the dishes in the buffet are South Indian style, with the traditional sauces such as yogurt sauce and tamarind.  We had lentil soup and a selection of salad and veggies.  I particularly liked the lentil fritters.

Lentil Fritters

After the buffet came a long procession of dishes from the regular menu.  Kiran was sure to emphasize the traditional Nepali dishes, especially since Vivian and I are both already familiar with Indian food.  The first dish we tried is also an appetizer called Chicken Chowela.  I love the way Kiran described this – he called it “Nepali pub food”!  This spicy dish is traditionally served in the hot summer months, with a rice-based liquor.  This was the first of many homestyle “mom’s recipe” dishes that we tried.  While the spice level was toned down a bit from the traditional way, it still had a great tomatoey, spicy kick.  Although Nepal is a relatively small country, the food is very regionalized.  Chowela is a dish mainly found in Kathmandu.  Quite fittingly, Kiran is from the region in Nepal that is known for their festivals and great food!

Chicken Chowela

Since Nepal is located between India and Tibet, naturally they have been influenced by their neighbors.  Nepal adopted some ingredients, such as soy, and some cooking styles, such as the use of cornstarch, from its Chinese neighbors.  Himalayan Restaurant offers a selection of Indo-Chinese dishes.  We tried the Gobi Manchurian, which is battered and fried cauliflower with green pepper, onion and a tomato-based sauce.  This dish was easily one of our favorites!  Great big flavors – kind of a sweet aroma with a smoky taste — totally unique.  Super good!  If you’re looking for something unlike anything you’ve tried before, I highly recommend this dish.  It’s so flavorful, I promise you won’t even miss the meat!

Gobi Manchurian

In the same way that Nepal adopted some Tibetan cooking techniques, they also adopted some aspects of traditional Indian cooking.  While there are lots of similarities between Indian and Nepalese cuisine – they use many of the same spices – there are also some distinct differences.  In general, Indian food is very rich and robust.  Nepalese food may use the same spices, but they simply use LESS of them.  The basic herbs and spices of Nepalese food are ginger and garlic.  Additionally, Nepalese cooking uses clarified butter instead of oil, and there are NO milk-based products in Nepalese cuisine, unlike Indian food which can use ingredients such as cream or coconut milk.

Chicken Momo

Next we tried the most typical of all Nepali foods – the momo.  Momos are Nepali-style dumplings.  Kiran called it “the hamburger of Nepal” because it’s a dish you can find everywhere, done a million different ways.  The momos that Kiran makes look very similar to the Shanghainese soup dumplings, xiao long bao, like little pouches without the soup!  We tried chicken momos, which are stuffed with chicken, ginger and garlic.  One of the most important aspects of the momo is the sauce.  Kiran serves his momos with a red chile sauce made of chiles, tomato and ginger.  There is another style of pan-fried momo, which is served with a sweeter sauce.  Vivian and I are dumpling lovers – we could eat them ANYTIME—so we both loved the momos.  I’ve actually had momos before, and I like Himalayan’s version, with a fairly thin wrapper (not so chewy!) and a thicker, tastier sauce.  Momos are definitely another MUST at Himalayan Restaurant!

clockwise fr bottom left: garlic naan, saffron rice, kadhai paneer, bodi aloo, khasi ko masu

Next, the manager brought out a selection of traditional Nepali dishes that he thought we must try.  We had Bodi Aloo, which is sautéed potatoes and green beans, Khasi Ko Masu, a goat curry which is a basic at ALL Nepali occasions, and the Kadhai Paneer, which is homemade paneer cooked with tomato, onions and bell peppers.  These were served with saffron rice and garlic naan and whole wheat roti.  The goat curry had a great rich sauce, but  Vivian and I were both drawn to the vegetarian dishes.  And we’re dedicated carnivores!  The vegetarian food at Himalayan Restaurant has so much depth of flavor that they would easily safisfy any meat-eater!  Even though I loved the strong flavor of the garlic naan, plain naan or roti are much more traditional.

By this time, Vivian and I are starting to get full, but then a sizzling plate of tandoori was brought out, and of course we had to try everything!  We recommend the Mix Grill, which comes with tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, lamb kabob and fish tikka.  I’d never had fish tikka before, and with a meaty fish like mahi mahi, it was quite delicious!  MMM, love those sizzlin’ onions!

Himalayan Mix Grill

As full as we were, of course we had to have dessert as well.  We tried a drink called Falooda, which is actually a Middle Eastern style dessert, containing ice cream, rose syrup, jelly, some poppy seeds, and noodles!  Lots of interesting textures going on, and it’s kinda fun to suck noodles up through the straw!

So what does one drink with Nepali food?  There is tea of course, or lassi, the Indian version of a fruit smoothie.  Himalayan Restaurant is one of the only places importing Haywards 5000 beer in the area, so I decided to try one.  Actually the beer is a great palate cleanser, preparing your taste buds for the next delicious bite!  Himalayan Restaurant has a full bar with a variety of wines.  I like that Kiran has put conscious thought into what types of beverages will pair well with his food, for example a Malbec with a lamb curry.  In fact, he is also planning a wine dinner at the restaurant!  Many people are at a loss as to how to pair ethnic food and wine, and I think it’s great that Himalayan Restaurant is showing us all how it’s done!

What Vivian took away from this experience was much more than full bellies and boxes of leftovers!  What sticks in my mind even more than the unique flavor of the Gobi Manchurian is Kiran’s passion for what he does, and his enthusiasm to share his culture with his customers.  While the 2 locations of his restaurant are both successful, he’s not just trying to make a buck.  It’s clear that Kiran and his partners have worked hard to get to where they are.  He truly wants each customer to have an enjoyable experience, and not only to taste great food, but to learn about his culture.

For a true taste of Nepal’s delicious cuisine and culture, a visit to Himalayan Restaurant is highly recommended!

Himalayan Restaurant & Bar – Bloomingdale
398 W Armytrail Road
Bloomingdale IL  60108
(630) 523-5100

Himalayan Restaurant & Bar – Niles
8265 Golf Road
Niles IL  60714
(847) 324-4150

Himalayan Restaurant & Bar – Gurnee
3747 Grand Ave
Gurnee IL  60031
(224) 637-3000

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Cumin is the seed of a small umbelliferous plant, a member of the parsley family. Cumin is available dried, or ground to a brownish-green powder and is one of the most essential spice of Indian and Nepali cuisine. Cumin is integral part of the curry powder or paste. Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma. According to online wiki, cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black pepper.

Cumin Seed

Culinary Uses
Cumin seed or powder is used in almost every Indian and Nepali dish from Potatoes, Chicken, Goat, Lamb, Paneer, Biryani Rice, Jeera Rice and also in Tandoori items: Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Sesh Kabab. Cumin is often fried whole in hot oil or ground as part of a blend. It is an ingredient of most curry powders and many savoury spice mixtures.

Medicinal Benefits
Cumin is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness, and may relieve flatulence and colic. It has been shown to be effective in treating carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as diarrhea, indigestion, and morning sickness. As a herbal drink it can be helpful to counteract indigestion.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Cumin
Almost all of appetizers and main entrees consists cumin seed or powder.
The most famous entrees with Cumin are: Lamb Curry, Tandoori Chicken, Paneer Tikka Masala, Malai Kofta, Butter Chicken, Chicken Curry, Palak Paneer

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Indian Cuisine Reaches New Heights in Gurnee IL 60031

By Burton Fleisher from Burt’s Food Blog!

Two weeks ago I was invited to the Grand Opening night of the Himalayan Restaurant in Gurnee. This location is their 3rd Chicagoland area restaurant. And I’m happy to say, that I was treated to a great meal.

Indian and Nepali Food Buffet

Now I know this means that this isn’t one of my usual incognito drive-by reviews, but, be that as it may, I tasted the food with no less criticality than any other restaurant that I visit, and still, it impressed me.

The owners seemed a tad bit surprised by the volume of first night visitors; apparently the restaurant depraved denizens of the Gurnee-Waukegan area have been keeping their eyes peeled open for the Himalayan’s opening also. But they visited and greeted each table with warm welcomes to the new establishment. I think it made for a lively dining experience, and it kept the food moving and fresh.

The food spread was done buffet style, featuring both Indian and Nepali dishes. Everything I tasted was delicious and prepared wonderfully. Which I think speaks to the owners experience with their other two restaurants; cook only what you can handle, and cook what you do well, especially during opening week.

In reviewing the enormous menu which offers take out & delivery, there is much to be explored here that goes far beyond the buffet I experienced that evening.

Taste: 8
Experience: 7
Value: 7 (based on the menu prices)
Score:  7.5

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Coriander Powder

Coriander (Cilantro) is a herb with a fresh, sweet aroma. The Coriander powder is an essential spice in the Indian and Nepali cuisine. It is used as a flavoring agent in vegetarian and non-vegetarian items. It imparts the dish with its unique aroma of freshness.

Coriander Powder

Coriander Seed

Culinary Uses
Coriander seeds are dried up, ground into a powder form after which they are stored in dry packets. Coriander powder is used at the beginning of the preparation of a dish, usually, fried in oil or butter. All parts of the coriander plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most commonly used in Indian and Nepali cooking. Fresh coriander leaf are mostly used for garnish and for flavoring but it has totally different taste to the seed.

Medicinal Benefits
Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. A study found both the leaves and seed to contain antioxidants, but the leaves were found to have a stronger effect.
Coriander can be used to cure mouth ulcers and rashes. Coriander has been documented as a traditional treatment for diabetes. Coriander seeds were found in a study on rats to have a significant hypolipidemic effect, resulting in lowering of levels of total cholesterol.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Coriander powder
Almost all of appetizers and main entrees consists coriander powder.
The most famous entrees with ginger are: Tandoori Chicken, Paneer Tikka Masala, Malai Kofta, Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry, Chicken Curry, Palak Paneer

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Garlic is an erect biennial herb with condensed, flattened stem and narrow, flat leaves. The bulb consists of bulblets called cloves. The cloves are used for consumption (raw or cooked), or for medicinal purposes, and have a characteristic pungent, spicy flavor that mellows and sweetens considerably with cooking. The Sankrit word, “Lahsunah”, for garlic, means “that which devours diseases of the heart”. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and is one of the essential part of the Indian and Nepali cuisine.

Culinary Uses
Garlic is widely used around in India and Nepal for its pungent flavor as a seasoning or condiment. It is a fundamental component in many or most the Indian and Nepali. The flavour varies in intensity and aroma with the different cooking methods. It is often paired with onion, tomato, or ginger.

Medicinal Benefits
The garlic bulbs have stimulant, anti cholesterol, antibacterial, aphrodisiac, analgesic, anthelmintic, diuretic, emmenagogue and anti fungal properties. It is used to treat the following conditions:
a. Earache Relief (Garlic oil)
b. Natural Cholesterol Remedy
c. Reduces Hypertension
d. Strengthens Immune System
e. Traditionally used to treat flu, colds, and bronchitis

Other benefits of turmeric are: Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer Prevention and Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Garlic
Almost all of appetizers and main entrees consists garlic.
The most famous entrees with ginger are: Tandoori Chicken, Paneer Tikka Masala, Malai Kofta, Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry

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Turmeric has a peppery, warm and bitter flavored, bright yellow colored spice and is best known as one of the ingredients used to make curry. Turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has a tough brown skin and a deep orange flesh. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in Indian and Nepali systems of medicine.

Turmeric Powder & Root

Culinary Uses
Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian. In Nepal and Northern of India, turmeric is widely grown and is extensively used in almost every vegetable and meat dish in the country for its color, as well as for its medicinal value. It is a significant ingredient in most curry powders.

Medicinal Benefits
Turmeric is a powerful medicine that has long been used in Indian, Chinese and Nepali systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions, including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, toothache, bruises, chest pain, and colic. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns. When combined with cauliflower (Bhuteko Cauli – Nepali Entree), it has shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.

Other benefits of turmeric are: Relief for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer Prevention and Reduce Risk of Childhood Leukemia.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Turmeric
Almost all of appetizers and main entrees consists turmeric powder.
The most famous entrees with ginger are: Mutter Panner, Malai Kofta, Butter Chicken, Lamb Curry, Butter Chicken

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Ginger takes its name from the Sanskrit word stringa-vera, which means “with a body like a horn”. Ginger is essential spice in Indian and Nepali cooking. Ginger is available in various forms, whole raw and fresh roots, dried roots, powdered ginger, pickled  ginger and preserved ginger. Inidan and Nepali cooking use primarily the dried ginger roots.

Culinary Uses
Fresh ginger is essential to Asian cuisine especially in India and Nepal. It is used in pickles, chutneys and curry pastes and the ground dried root is a constituent of many curry powders. Tender young ginger can be sliced and eaten as a salad and also green sprouts from ginger can be added to a green salad. Pickled ginger is a delicious accompaniment to satays and a colourful garnish to many Indian and Nepali dishes.

Medicinal Benefits
Ginger is most commonly known for its effectiveness as a digestive aid (Ginger tea). By increasing the production of digestive fluids and saliva, Ginger helps relieve indigestion, gas pains, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Ginger root is also used as an anti nausea remedy for motion sickness and morning sickness. It also relieves the symptoms of people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and muscular discomfort. Ginger Root may also be used to help break fevers by warming the body and increasing perspiration.

Entrees at Himalayan Restaurant with Ginger
The most famous entrees with ginger are: Chicken Momo, Vegetale Momo, Palak Paneer, Dal Makhani, Lamb Curry, Chicken Curry

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