In the heart of Linden sits a jewel of Taj Mahal country in the form of a restaurant by the name of Bikaner. For the past three years I have become obsessed with their menu as it encompasses a wide variety of the country’s food, and after all, that’s why we’re here – to talk about the best Indian restaurant this side of the Drakensberg.
Indian cuisine reflects a 5 000-year history of various groups and cultures interacting with a wide variety of herbs and spices. This all boils down to what Bikaner is all about: the best of the Far East. Personally I’ve never ventured further than their vegetarian mains selection simply because it’s just that good. The curries on offer are rich, creamy and filled to the brim with paneer made in-house – paneer is an Indian cheese made from separating the curds of whole milk from the whey by adding a food acid such as lemon juice or vinegar to the boiling pot.
What adds to my enjoyment of the place is that I know the guy who supplies Bikaner with all their herbs and spices. My favourite dish on offer would be the paneer makhani, which is a gravy made from puréed tomato, ginger and green chilli, topped with paneer. This is served with fine grain basmati rice. As is tradition, I always order butter naan bread to dip into the gravy. Trust me, you have not lived until you’ve experienced Bikaner’s curries.
The best way to visit Bikaner would be to go in a big group and order four or five different curries with garlic and butter naan. Another winner on the menu would be paneer palak, a dish consisting of spinach, tomato gravy sauce and paneer in a thick paste made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic, garam masala, and other spices.
The list of good food goes on and on, and for those of you who do eat meat, don’t worry – the kitchen has you covered. All dishes can be prepared to whichever level of heat you prefer – I enjoy my food to be quite spicy and the hot option has always left me satisfied.
Bikaner does take aways as well which is good for an evening cuddled in front of the TV.
By Shawn Greyling