It’s easy to notice Mughal Darbar, an Indian restaurant located among many that lace the Old North Columbus neighborhood along North High Street.
Located where Taj Mahal once operated, the house-like exterior of the restaurant will never prepare you for what you will see inside. Walking up the steps and entering in the front door, I was greeted by a child, which took me by surprise at first, but nevertheless, I was amused. A few moments later, a server brought my friends and I to our table, which was in the back room.
The walk to the back room was interesting because I caught a glimpse of the other rooms, which all sported different decors. The restaurant has about three or four room separated by partitions, and each individual room could have easily passed as an entirely different restaurant.
Mughal Darbar possesses an extensive menu. I told my server I wanted to fully experience a Mughlai dish , and ordered one of her recommendations — the Murgh Kadhai at $13. This dish consists of boneless chicken cooked with bell pepper onions in tomato gravy with Mughlai herbs and spices. The spiciness of the dish, like most other item on the menu, is up to the customer to choose between mild, medium or hot. Personally, I love my food to be spicy, but since it was my first time, I opted for the medium option to play it safe.
The chicken was tender and didn’t divert me from savoring the tastes of the dish. The gravy was thick and mildly spicy, and it went well with the basmati rice that came with the order.
One of my friends ordered the Chicken Pakora at $6.50, the Darbar Makhani at $13 and the Mango Lassi to drink at $3. The Chicken Pakora came with a stainless steel soufflé cup filled with mint sauce, together with lemon and red onion slices on the side. The chicken itself was sprinkled with pepper. It tasted like little fried chicken pieces, only better, with a tinge of zest to it. The Darbar Makhani was also boneless chicken cooked in tomato sauce, butter and yogurt sauce. This dish in comparison with the Murgh Kadhai was a little sweeter. The gravy was not as thick and not as spicy, even though my friend also choose the medium option for spiciness. The Mango Lassi wasn’t that spectacular, even though it complemented the dish really well.
My other friend ordered the Bhindi Do Piazza at $10 and the Banta Soda for $2. The Bhindi Do Piazza, a vegetarian dish , was pan-fried with fresh-cut okra with butter onion and Mughlai spices. I was hesitant at first to try this dish because I’ve never been a big fan of okra, but I did anyway and it was surprisingly tasty. It didn’t possess any of the gooeyness I’ve come to associate with okras over the years, and the mixture of flavors in the silver platter that it was served in made an interesting vegetarian dish. As for the Banta Soda, I would only recommend that if you’re familiar with Indian herbs and are open to having them in your drink. The drink was sour, but not overtly so, and it did have a peppery taste to it.
Between us, we also shared the Garlic Naan at $4. The bread tasted a little bland but since it was served with our entrees, we dipped it in our gravies and it worked for us.
Mughal Darbar is one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to in Columbus, and I am definitely looking forward to coming back to this restaurant for their daily lunch buffet or for dinner again.
The restaurant is located at 2321 N. High St. and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., except on Sundays when it closes at 9 p.m. Mughal Darbar is not open Mondays.