Mystery Diner in Algonquin: Thumka Indian Express a richly flavored treat

Though one might not immediately notice Thumka Indian Express tucked along Algonquin Road, it is definitely a place to check out for a great meal.

The setup is simple – you can walk right up to the cashier station and order to go, as I did, or eat inside. My food, which included an appetizer and two large entrees, was ready within 15 minutes. Though I was only there for a short time, the staff was very attentive and polite.

The drive from Thumka Indian Express, at 2737 W. Algonquin Road, back to my destination took about 30 minutes. But the food, which was piping hot when I received it, held up during the drive in sturdy takeout boxes.

According to its website, Thumka Indian Express was born after its owner tired of eating what he called “mediocre” and tasteless Indian food. Well, that definitely isn’t a problem at Thumka. In every dish, all the spices melded together beautifully, creating a savory experience with every mouthful.

First up, I got an order of samosas ($4.99 for two). This South Asian fried pastry, filled with potatoes and peas, was delectable. With a beautiful, golden, flaky outside and soft, spicy inside, the samosas made for a perfect appetizer. It is definitely a great item to share before a meal. A green mild sauce and sticky brown sauce on the side complemented the samosas perfectly.

Whenever I visit an Indian restaurant, my go-to is the biryani, a rice dish that, in my case, was served with lamb ($14.99). It did not disappoint. The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Though rice dishes can tend to be a bit bland in comparison to other entrees, this biryani was not. It had the right amount of spiciness and flavor, though it was not overpowering. It was very filling, however, making it perfect to share or for leftovers.

The chicken curry ($12.99) was a standout dish, and also another large portion. It was rich and creamy, with a nice kick from the spices. The chicken itself was tender and juicy, and generously slathered with the beautiful orange curry sauce.

To accompany my meal, I chose to try an order of the butter naan ($2.99) as a side. The naan was pillowy and soft, perfect to eat on its own, which I almost wanted to do. However, dipping it into the chicken curry made the entire meal come together for me. The combination of the naan and curry was every bit as comforting as grilled cheese and tomato soup on a winter’s day.

For an extra dollar, you can upgrade the butter naan, which is already wonderful, to garlic naan ($3.99). I highly suggest doing so for any fellow garlic lovers out there. Every inch of my two garlic naan pieces was completely covered in garlic, adding another dimension to the delicious Indian bread.

All in all, I had a very satisfying experience at Thumka Indian Express. Next time, I plan on trying the aloo tikki chat ($5.99), which are pan-fried mashed potato patties served warm and topped with garbanzo beans cooked in Indian spices, and their mango lassi ($3.50), which is a mango yogurt smoothie.

• The Mystery Diner is an employee at the Northwest Herald. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff when ordering or picking up the food. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a story.


WHAT: Thumka Indian Express

WHERE: 2737 W. Algonquin Road, Algonquin

PHONE: 847-829-6992