Review: India DinerAuthor: Smokin DB | Filed under: Food Reviews, Location: Indianapolis, IN
8810 South Emerson Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46237
I love Indian food. I really didn’t start eating it with regularity until about ten years ago, but once I discovered this cuisine, I was totally hooked. The dichotomy of creamy dairy based sauces that are also, in some cases, fiery hot is delicious. The number of spices and techniques involved also make it a cuisine that has an infinite number of variations keeping dishes interesting and adventurous
Unfortunately, I found most of the Indian in Indianapolis to be on the boring side. A dumbed down version devoid of the heat and complex flavors of the really good Indian that I have eaten elsewhere. I primarily eat Indian at lunch via the ubiquitous buffet (My daughter has some food allergies so this is my best chance to eat Indian). I get that you are trying to hit the lowest common denominator with this type of service but really, the blandness of dishes that I was experiencing was killing me. Then I tried India Diner. Yep, just a couple doors down from the newly expanded Brozinni Pizza.
India Diner is your typical store-front Indian joint; clean but somewhat dull interior dominated by a long buffet line. What’s on that line makes it anything but typical. It’s Indian food with the spiciness and depth of flavor that I crave.
What I Got: I usually graze these things, sampling small bites of a variety of dishes on the first pass and then absolutely destroy it on subsequent trips and there was no breaking from routine here. First trip was red onion chutney that was great. I also got Lamb Vindallu, Vegetable Pakora, Dal Makhni, Palak Paneer, Tandoori Chicken and finally Punjabi Curry. I don’t eat a lot of lamb but this was exceptional. Tender and moist with a brilliant red sauce of yogurt and spices. Heat was medium for me, but far beyond the Vindallu I’ve had elsewhere in the city. Pakora is a breaded fried fritter and this was really good, not greasy but again with a nice hit of spice, not heat, just spice. Dal Makhni is a vegetarian lentil based curry that is less about dairy but still manages to be creamy and full of flavor. Palak Paneer also vegetarian is spinach cooked with a mild, slightly dry Indian cheese that I have had many times. The danger here is the cheese, in spite of swimming in a very mild yet complex sauce, can get tough and dry. But not here, where it’s really good. The Tandoori Chicken with the to-be-expected Chicken Tikka (yeah, I killed this on trip #2) is great as well as it was correctly spiced and not overcooked. The unexpected star of the show was the Punjabi Curry. I’ve never seen this preparation before. Vegetable Pakora was in a sauce that was neon yellow. The flavor was citrusy with a bit of heat that hit late and then the curry spice from the Pakora. I asked the server about it and he said they just started to have this on the buffet. It was fantastic. The tip-in for me is that at India Diner they bring fresh hot Naan right to the table rather than having it on the buffet where it tends to either dry out or get soggy.
Would I Buy It Again? Oh yeah. With a drink you are getting of India Diner for around ten bucks and you are eating, as least in my mind, a fairly authentic representation of Indian food.