On August 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill took effect, inaugurating self rule and freedom from the British Raj. It is often said that the British left India with two important features – one was the railway and the other was the English language. However, these days I would add Indian cuisine to those preceding two features, and so the Dining Out team went to the Crown of India to experience Indian cuisine as they saw it.
An interesting background to Indian cuisine in Pattaya is that the long-established Ali Baba and Crown of India are run by the same family, so we couldn’t help indulging in comparisons.
The menu is mainly photographic and there is no mistaking this restaurant’s roots, with the service personnel, all in traditional outfits and turbans. To maintain the ethnic side of things, the background music is also Indian, and the 127-item menu is again a typical Indian menu amongst traditional Indian dishes.
It begins with Starters (50-300 baht) featuring Aloo Chat and Onion Bhaji and they are followed by Kebabs (veg 220-265 baht) and (non-veg 240-400) with Tandoori prawns at the top end.
Mains range from 125-330 baht and cover chicken, mutton, fish, prawns and even an egg curry.
For those not au fait with Indian cuisine, Crown of India offers Thali plates with seven or eight different dishes with rice at 350-400 baht. “The Beginners Guide to Indian Cuisine” comes with a spread of different items for the culinary novice to try, and are two main styles – vegetarian or non-veg, with the latter including Chicken Tikka, Lamb curry, Chicken curry, Dahl, Pilau rice, Vegetable Jhalfrezi, Roti and a dessert. At 400 baht for a Thali plate, I considered this to be very inexpensive, and the Dining Out Team can certainly recommend the Crown of India both for the food and the prices.
There is the usual choice of breads (25-140 baht) and rice.
While perusing the menu we had a glass of the house white. My suspicions were proved correct – we were drinking Mont Clair from the box, but I must say that Mont Clair was eminently quaffable with the spicy Indian food. (Or perhaps my palate was ‘off’ that evening!)
With a team of four, it was possible for us to try many dishes. The kitchen staff was kept busy with:
Pappadoms (Special Indian Crackers) (50 baht), Aloo Chaat (Spicy Potato Salad) (110 baht), Onion Bhaji (Onion Fritters with Indian Masala) (100 baht), Vegetable Samosa (Potato Patties Punjabi Style), Paneer Tikka (Cottage Cheese Marinated with Indian Spices and cooked in Tandoor), Butter Chicken (Chicken tikka cooked in butter and tomato gravy) (230 baht), Rogan Josh (Kashmiri Style Lamb Curry) (290 baht), Lamb Biryani (Fried Rice Biryani Style with Lamb), Pulao Rice (Yellow Rice with Spices), Bhindi Masala (Okra in Masala Gravy) (160 baht), Dal Tadka (Yellow Lentils) (140 baht), Raita (yoghurt) (80 baht), Garlic and Butter Naan (60 and 55 baht).
We shared and we enjoyed, with the Butter chicken being my pick of the evening.
So, in the ‘unofficial’ Indian cuisine face-off, Crown of India presented excellent dishes, with marginally more choices than its sister and on a head to head comparison comes on top (just). The ambience, however, is more Indian at Ali Baba with the alcoves, while Crown sets the tables out in cafeteria fashion.
It was a most enjoyable dinner and we think the final decision as to where to eat will probably be down to ease of parking.
Crown of India, Second Road (on the left just past Soi 6), 98/6 moo 9, on-street parking, telephone 038-423-009, www.facebook.com/crownofindiapattaya, open seven days, hours 11 a.m. till 1 a.m., [email protected]