Eat This: Murgh Akbari at Shiva Indian Restaurant
Murgh Akbari: tender stuffed chicken
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
The Rice Village branch of Shiva Indian Restaurant offers on the whole decently-prepared chaats, biryanis, and curries of varying heat that will satisfy your craving for (slightly Americanized versions of) classic Indian dishes.
There are two reasons, however, why you should favor Shiva over other the many Indian restaurants offering equally good (or better) Indian fare in Houston. First, is the glass stall in the front of the dining room that allows patrons to observe one of Shiva's chefs deftly beat and roll thick stubborn dough into discs of naan.
The second reason is the Murgh Akbari, a stuffed chicken breast that is not only the best thing on Shiva's menu, but also singularly amazing among all Indian dishes available in this city.
A bold claim, I know, but defensible when you consider, and, I hope, eventually taste, the killer trifecta of components that make Murgh Akbari so wonderful. Let's start with the chicken itself, amazingly tender, juicy, and sufficiently flavorful so as not even to require sauce (more on that later). Then, there's what's inside this tender breast: a creamy mixture of cottage cheese speckled with raisins and almonds. It provides a varied mouthfeel, thanks to the inclusions of soft dairy elements and nuts, and a sweetness that deliciously diverges from the rich savory sauce fragrant with saffron, garam masala, and cardamon.
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