942 Atlantic Ave., Baldwin
Since opening two years ago as an intimate neighborhood spot, Raagini Restaurant has undergone some stunning changes. The restaurant is now double in size. Totally renovated, the interior is lush with exquisite treasures — vibrant stained glass hanging lamps, decorative tin ceiling tiles, and authentic artifacts — all imported from India.
As before, servers are cordial and attentive. If you’re lucky enough to chat with owner and chef Ram Bisht, you’ll learn a wealth of interesting tidbits. While his culinary focus is northern India, he experiments with cooking styles from other regions and countries. Bisht brings decades of experience, starting with school in Bombay. He has cooked at Windows of the World, owned Tandoori Grill in Rockville Centre, Raagini in New Jersey, and most recently opened Tandoor Grill in Long Beach.
The menu is enormous, with dozens of options and seven different curry sections. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations, or request less or more spiciness. Appetizers are $4.99 to $12.99. Indian breads are $1.99 to $9.99. Biryani & Pilafs (Basmati rice with spices, vegetables, meats or seafood) are $3.99 to $16.99. Entrees — curry specialties, Tandoor grill, and kebabs — range from $11.99 to $17.99. Desserts are $3.99 to $4.99.
We enjoyed warm freshly baked Garlic Naan, one of the dozen Indian breads available. Aloo Papri Chaat, a chilled starter, was a tasty mix of chick peas, diced potatoes, and bread crisps tossed in yogurt, coriander and tamarind sauce. Bombay Crab Cakes — two meaty patties — were delicately seasoned and drizzled with curry mayo. Fish Koliwada, chickpea battered slices of tilapia, came with two tangy chutneys.
Curry entrees tend to go well with the fragrant Basmati rice. An all time favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala, served in a copper vessel, was Tandoor-cooked white meat in creamy tomato sauce perked with fenugreek. Kadai Lamb, a specialty of Pakistan, offered tender lamb with green peppers, tomatoes, onions and green chilies in rich gravy. Vegetable lovers will adore Baingan Bharta, baked and mashed eggplant with onions and tomatoes; mix with rice or scoop it up with naan. Tandoori Prawns, marinated with carom seeds and grilled in the clay oven, were simply scrumptious.
Desserts include ice cream and traditional favorites. Think of Gulab Jamun as the Indian version of a donut, immersed in honey syrup, served warm. Chilled Ras Malai, a mound of soft cheese in sweet milky sauce, was dotted with pistachio nuts.
A large catering menu offers many options, with trays (three sizes) that feeds from 10 to 45 people. Raagini Restaurant can accommodate parties for up to 60 guests. Delivery is free within two miles. Hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch, and 5 to 10 p.m. for dinner. Sunday hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are suggested.
• Garlic Naan
• Aloo Papri Chaat
• Bombay Crab Cake
• Fish Koliwada
• Chicken Tikki Masala
• Baingan Bharta
• Kadai Lamb
• Tandoori Prawns
• Gulab Jamun
• Ras Malai