Students are back in Lincoln for the school year, and all of the restaurants that opened up over the summer have been flooded with business. With food from Chinese to Greek to American to Indian, everyone is bound to find something they like.
Kitty-corner to Jimmy John’s on 14th and O streets, Aroma Contemporary Indian Cuisine opened back in May, but for those who went home for the summer, it is brand new. Aroma is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Fridays, ready to serve a meal to those who need a late-night bite.
With an orange marquee in front of the restaurant, it’s hard to miss. The restaurant sits on a busy street, so parking can be a little difficult. Thankfully, it is just a short distance from campus, so the walk is perfect and needed once you finish your meal.
Aroma specializes in authentic Indian cuisine, something that is lacking in Lincoln. On the menu, you can find dishes like Chicken Tikka Madras, chicken cooked in a coconut curry sauce, Lamb Kadai Ghost, lamb cooked with onion, tomato and jalapeno, Shrimp Bhuna, shrimp sauteed with ginger, garlic and jalapeno and then cooked in a creamy sauce and Biryani dishes with your choice of meat. Almost every meal is also served with rice.
Seeing all these items for the first time can be a little overwhelming, but the waiters are more than happy to explain what anything is.
I decided to go for the Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish I have had before and loved from various other places. With fourteen different types of bread that you can order, I was intrigued by the sauce that came with the naan bread — another favorite of mine, so I went ahead and ordered some for an appetizer.
I was surprised that I was the only customer inside of Aroma during what I thought would be a lunch rush. It seemed as though my waiter was also the cook, as he was the only other person I saw or heard. Although it was a holiday weekend, I was a little uncomfortable being alone. It didn’t help that most of the lights were off and there wasn’t music playing — that really set the ambiance. Working with just about 1,000 square feet, the inside of Aroma is small but not cramped. The walls were painted an inviting spicy red and mustard yellow that just so happened to match the color of my meal.
As my naan bread was brought out, more customers started to trickle in, which eased my nerves a little.
The naan was cooked perfectly and was drizzled with a tiny amount of olive oil and a green lemon and basil chutney was served on the side. Not long after, my Chicken Tikka Masala came out, steamy and delicious. My rice and masala were presented in separate dishes, but I used my plate from the naan to mix the two. Even with the dish just sitting on my table for less than a minute, the aroma of the cardamon, chicken and tomato filled the restaurant and immediately made my mouth water.
Compared to other tikka masalas that I have had, Aroma’s take on the dish seemed to have the right amount of spice and heat, if not more. It’s a very mild spice, but for some Nebraskan mouths, it could burn a tiny bit. I ate about half of it until I had to tap out, regretting filling myself too full from the naan. However, I made sure to box it up and bring it home for later.
Hopefully, the smell of my masala in the fridge will help my roommates and friends realize there are more dinner options close to campus other than chain fast food. Let’s just hope they all see my name on the takeout box so they don’t take it for themselves.