Pandemic Takeout 42: (Mostly) North Indian Food at Kabob’s (Bloomington, MN)

When I came upon Kabob’s Indian Grill in late 2019 they immediately became my favourite Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities—not that that was saying very much. This was largely on the strength of their weekday lunch thalis—my favourite restaurant meal in Minnesota. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy their a la carte menu as well. We got food from them a couple of times last year as well after the pandemic started and mostly enjoyed those meals too. However, when it came to my first-ever rankings of Indian restaurants in the Twin Cities metro, I couldn’t put them into the top tier—where sit Godavari and Indian Masala. My rankings last year were driven largely by the South Indian offerings on the new(er) places that have opened in the last few years. Kabob’s focus too is on South Indian food, particularly Chettinad food. In 2021, however, my goal is to expand the rankings with an evaluation of the North Indian food scene in the Twin Cities metro, the food more familiar to most American diners. Before I get to the North Indian specialists proper, however, I’m scoping out the North Indian offerings at the South Indian specialists. I’ve already reported on our recent meal from Indian Masala in this genre. Here now is my take on some of  Kabobs’ North Indian offerings.

I don’t mean to suggest, of course, that we’ve never gotten any North Indian food from Kabob’s before. Given our boys’ tandoori chicken and naan obsession both our pandemic takeout meals from them included those. And we got some of both this time as well. To those we added an order each of reshmi kababs (chicken) and lamb boti kababs. For the non-veg mains we got butter chicken and a decidedly non-North Indian mutton pepper fry. North Indian dal tadka for the dal portion. For veg, one North Indian dish—palak paneer—and one Chettinad-style—fried eggplant curry. Many things came with rice and in addition to the naan we got a couple of tandoori rotis and an onion kulcha so we could compare it to Indian Masala’s.

How was it all? Well, the experience was a bit mixed. The butter chicken was quite good as was the tadka dal and the palak paneer (creamier than Indian Masala’s version which I preferred). Both South Indian dishes were excellent—a cut above the others, I thought. The boys reported that the tandoori chicken met with their approval. But the kababs, it pains me to say, were not good. Well, the flavour was good but the texture—hard and on the dry side—suggested that they might have been made previously, frozen and thawed before being reheated on the grill. I don’t know if that’s actually the case obviously but they did not seem freshly made. On the strength of this experience I would advise skipping the kababs and heading straight to the mains. And while I do think the South Indian dishes are the reason to eat at Kabob’s, their butter chicken, palak paneer and dal were better than versions I’ve eaten at North Indian specialists in the region in years past.

For a closer look at the food launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.

One more thing: Kabob’s is again open for in-person dining. All I will say about this is that there were indeed people dining in the restaurant as I waited outside to pick up our order and I was not convinced any more than I was last year that this is a restaurant large enough for there to be meaningful social distancing possible with even only two tables seated (and I’m not sure they’re only seating two tables anyway). I would urge you to support Kabob’s through the rest of the pandemic but I would also suggest getting food to go (and tipping generously). Apologies if reading this enrages you.

What’s next? I’m not sure, really. Maybe Mexican, maybe Malaysian, maybe Ethiopian. Let’s see.


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