By Lauren Morgan
Open since: March
Location: The restaurant sits in the Cruse Plaza shopping center, located near the intersection of Old Norcross Road and Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville.
Owners: The Sandhu family - Kuldip, Amarjit, Barkash, Rupa, Jag, Amardeep and Minnie
Hours: Aroma Delight is open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A lunch buffet is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.
Atmosphere: The space is perfect for family dining, banquets and receptions.
Deep cherry tables set with stemware and cloth napkins are classy but not pretentious. Instrumental tunes from old Indian movies play softly in the background. Paintings done by Kuldip Singh Sandhu, father of the Sandhu family, line the walls.
A wall of wood paneling separates the dining room from the banquet area, which can seat about 150 people. The restaurant also rents out its entire dining room space, which can seat up to 300 people, for receptions and events.
The food: Aroma Delight serves up traditional north Indian homestyle cooking. A typical north Indian meal would include unleavened flatbreads, mild curries, vegetables seasoned with yogurt or pomegranate powder, lots of greens (like spinach and mustard greens cooked with paneer) north Indian pickles, fresh tomato, mint and cilantro chutneys.
And that's exactly what is served on the restaurant's lunch buffet. The all-you-can-eat buffet is divided into two sections, one for meat and one for vegetables. On the veggie side, the navrattan korma, nine different vegetables cooked in a mildy spiced curry sauce, is popular. Customers also like the kadhai paneer - cubes of cheese cooked in a Kadhai, or wok, with garden vegetables.
Always on the buffet are the tandoori chicken - chicken cooked in a tandoori clay oven with freshly ground spices - and either the chicken tikka masala or butter chicken.
Basmati rice and side dishes, such as stir-fried rice and lo mein-style noodles, are offered on the buffet, along with garden salad, yogurt and naan (Indian flat bread), plus an assortment of chutneys, peppers, pickles and onions for adding spice.
The menu also offers a la carte dishes, with portions big enough to feed two. The seekh kebab - minced lamb or chicken with flavorful spices wrapped around a skewer and grilled in the tandoor - is a customer favorite, as is the rogan gosht, lean cubes of lamb cooked in a delicate sauce.
All of the buffet items are available on the a la carte menu. The dishes are available in mild, medium or hot.
Beverages: The mango lassi - a cool yogurt drink blended with mango and rosewater - or masala chai tea are both refreshing, traditional Indian drinks. Soda, coffee, juice and sweet tea are served. Aroma Delight also serves milkshakes and offers a full-service bar.
Dessert: A selection of Indian desserts can help cool down the palate after a spicy meal. Try ras malai, which is cream cheese in double cream, served cold, with garnished nuts.
Things you might not know: Most Indian restaurants are family-run businesses.
"My mother (Amarjit) is in the kitchen everyday," said Rupa Sandhu. "We all get a day off except for her. She's always cooking or supervising the cooking."
SideBar: On The Menu
All-you-can-eat lunch buffet: $7.95 on weekdays and $9.95 on weekends.
Chicken Tikka Masala: Boneless pieces of chicken cooked with the chef's special sauce ($11.95).
Seekh Kabab: Minced lamb or chicken cooked with spices, wrapped around a skewer and grilled in a tandoor oven ($11.95).
Shrimp Curry: Shrimp cooked in a traditional Indian curry sauce ($14.95).
Punjabi Karhi: Fried vegetable fritters served in a yogurt-based sauce ($9.95).