royal india / del mar – san diego, ca

I haven’t had a heck of a lot of Indian food. The few items I’ve had, it wasn’t very good and avoided trying it again. I hesitated when I got an invitation to dine at Royal India but then I figured… why not? It won’t hurt me to try it again and since this was a nicer place, I was hoping none of my food would get burned (last time I tried Indian I got burned garlic nan bread… um, gross). It didn’t, to save you the suspense.

I took Heather with me for this Indian inspired journey as she’s had Indian quite a few more times than I have. Let’s get this party started!


[papadum – crisped lentil crackers]

Our waiter brought over these crackers shortly after we sat down. They had a really nice aroma. It looked like a really crispy flatbread to me rather than crackers. I liked the spice and flavor of these crackers and they tasted even bit with a bit of dipping sauce.



We were given these two sauces along with the crackers. The red sauce was sweet – it reminded me of a jam, but very loose and not thick. I really liked the sweet flavor it has, though I could not tell you what the heck was in it!

The green sauce reminded me of a tomatillo sauce in color, looks and a little bit of the taste. It was more savory and full of more spices. Completely different from the red sauce!


[samosas – crispy pastries filled with chicken and spices]

Heather and I also shared some samosas. I figured anything that’s deep fried can only taste delicious, right? I liked how these were served standing up. They looked like deep fried purses the way they were arranged on the plate.


Within the crispy outer shell there was a mixture of chicken, some vegetables and spices. Everything here is filled to the bring with spices – even the air inside the restaurant smelled spicy! I used the red sauce for dipping my samosa in as well – the sweetness seemed tailor made to match with the spices of the samosa. The chicken seemed a bit on the dry side in this appetizer though, so I felt the sauce on the side helped it out a bit.


[garlic nan bread]

The nan bread totally delicious! I would come back just to eat bread. This bread is sort of like pita bread, or a fluffier version of flat bread. I liked how you could see where it got some bits of color from baking in the dark spots and that the whole thing is basically covered in fresh garlic and cilantro. It had a slight crisp on the outside and was chewy and warm. Totally loved it.


[iced chai latte]

For some reason… I had never had an iced chat latte before this visit! I love chai lattes… but it never occurred to me to get it on ice before. I must be crazy to have never tried this before. I already want to order this all the time.

The chai here is a nice, sweet mixture of spices – one of the best I’ve had!


[chicken tikka white wine curry – chicken roasted in a clay oven and finished with a white wine garlic curry]

There was a slight… snafu with dinner. Our waiter got confused when I asked for suggestions for dinner and only put in Heather’s order for an entree, thinking that I didn’t want any food (what?). So when her food came and mine didn’t I didn’t question it right away…. until the waiter told us to “Enjoy.” That sparked a little red flag and I asked our waiter about it who quickly realized the mistake. I guess he thought I was backing out of trying the food after all? I have no idea, but in any case he put in the order for my ordered dish and Heather gave me some of hers.

In the end I actually liked Heather’s white wine curry more than the one I got. The chicken was super, crazy tender and maintained a lot of juiciness. The thick white wine curry was quite tasty with hints of wine and garlic throughout it.


[chicken tikka masala – boneless chicken roasted in a clay oven and finished with a blend of creamed tomato curry and spices]

The chicken tikka was similar to the white wine curry in that again, the chicken was SO TENDER. Just.. like… melt in your mouth tender. This one had a bit of a more robust sauce and was more tomato based than the other dish. Overall it had a nice sweetness to it and a nice blend of spices. I would totally get either of these curries again!

I think I was afraid these would be these overly spiced, too hot for me, curries when in fact it was just a nice blend of spices and nothing “hot”.


[gulab jaman – milk balls fried and dipped in a syrup of sugar, cardamom and cloves]

Of course I can’t leave a place without trying dessert. I wasn’t really familiar with any of their desserts but ended up picking the gulab jaman since it sounded like more of the most unique dishes of the bunch. Fried milk balls… in syrup? I was imaging something kind of donut-like but that wasn’t quite what this was!


The little milk balls might have been fried and crispy once, but once they were full immersed in this sugary sweet liquid, it lost any crispiness it might have had. Instead it was quite soft. Firm enough to spoon through so I could take a bit off though, but soft to the touch and in my mouth. The syrup was like a glaze that the milk balls floating around in. It was maybe even a little too sweet since it was soaking up the flavors of the syrup but I really liked the hints of cardamom and cloves. The texture was a little weird to me – perhaps a little bit too soft for my liking.


Overall I can say that I liked it! If nothing else, I just want to eat garlic nan bread over and over again until I’m stuffed silly. I’ll have to venture to try other Indian dishes as well and see what other tidbits I like!

Royal India
3860 Valley Center Drive
San Diego, CA 92130

Royal India - Del Mar on Urbanspoon

* Disclaimer: I was invited to dine here by Bam Communications on behalf of the restaurant. Our entire meal was complimentary. I was not paid for this review and all opinions expressed here are my own.

9 thoughts on “royal india / del mar – san diego, ca

  1. Hi Mary! I love Indian food and am always looking for new places =) Have you tried Punjabi Tandoor? It’s S’s favorite place – they do a more creamy style of curries, with tamer spices. You might like that place!

    1. Hi Jinxi! I have not tried Punjabi Tandoor! I don’t remember the name of the place I where I initially tried Indian food, but they served me burned food and really terribly dry meat. I shouldn’t have let one place deter me. I’ll have to put that on my list of places to try, thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I’m so glad you were finally able to try this place out. Sis and I like their lunch buffet so it’s nice that you were able to try out their dinner option. I never liked the donut dessert for some reason – it’s like why fry something when you’re just going to soak it in some liquid afterwards and make it soggy 🙂 But yeah, I love cardamom too!!

    1. Yeah… what’s the point of frying something to put it into liquid so then it’s not crispy anymore?! I thought maybe it would be like just a glaze on top of some crunchy things. But I guess the description did actually say “juicy milk balls”… hahaha.

  3. I’m glad you gave Indian food another shot. The cuisine is so varied with it’s flavors and textures.

    The brown and green sauces were most likely tamarind and mint chutney. Your chicken tikka masala looked so good. I really like the sauce for that dish.

    I’m with you on the fried but soggy dessert. I’m not a fan of soft/mushy things, especially desserts.

    For a meatless Indian food adventure, try Surati Farsan Mart in Mira Mesa. They have a wide variety of relatively inexpensive snack/street food plates (most under $5) and a lot of really interesting tiny Indian sweets.

    1. Soggy desserts are weird, man. I was expecting something else! Thanks for the tips, CC! I think the mart is really, really close to my work, so I’ll definitely check it out. I’m more willing to try things if they’re cheap haha!

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