6 at Astor Pl.; F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Grand St. to 23rd St., Ave. D to Sixth Ave.
Raj Mahal has all the requisites of the East Village’s Curry Row. A suited barker calls out to passersby on the sidewalk, and sitar and tabla players perform in a front window. There are twin dining rooms, with low ceilings and dim light. Folksy murals of rural India and chile pepper Christmas lights provide the décor. The menu is extensive, focused on Southern Indian classics. Although flavoring isn’t very distinctive, the kitchen has a deft hand with textures. The purée of a mulligatawny soup is appealingly thick, shaded with subtle tomato, lemon, and lentil flavors. Deep-fried triangles of dough provide an addictive shell for samosas. Nan is light and fluffy, and made heartier with options like cheese, spinach, or potato. Yellow curries and red masalas have limited spicing, though a mahogany-shaded vindaloo is characteristically fiery. Thali platters and lunch combinations allow a mostly non-Desi clientele to sample a cross-section of the offerings.Recommended Dishes
Samosas, $3.95; mulligatawny soup, $4.50; chicken vindaloo, $11.95