Thursday, October 14, 2010

India Garden

So, Indian food is one that I don’t have a tremendous amount of experience with, because, well, frankly, it has never been my favorite cuisine I guess.  But I am always trying to broaden my culinary mind, so I have made it a goal to work on trying lots of Indian places and lots of different dishes.  And as always, I welcome your feedback.  You guys have turned me on to lots of really good places in my time writing this blog, and I know you won’t let me down!
Anyway, after asking for some suggestions, we decided to try Indian Garden in Broad Ripple.  We went for lunch—they offer a lunch buffet.  Ok, I have to say, I am generally not a huge fan of buffets just because I think a lot of the time you have no idea how the fresh the food really is. I also don’t think it is a true test of what a kitchen is capable of when it isn’t freshly made.  Hubby tends to agree with this theory as well, so we decided to order off the menu and share some freshly cooked items.  I did go up and check what was on the buffet just to see how it looked.  And apparently they do a pretty good buffet business (a lot of people by themselves having lunch which made for quite a quiet dining room).  The downside for us is there is no other lunch menu, so we had to pay full price for items from the dinner menu.
We started with an order of Onion Bhaji which are little deep fried fritters made up of very thinly sliced onions (I think there were white onions as well as scallions in there), that are dipped in a batter made of chick pea flour and fried.  They were highly seasoned, I would guess with turmeric based on the color of the insides.  They were served with a mint sauce as well as a sweeter tamarind sauce.   I enjoyed these quite a bit.  They were super fresh and hot, and nicely crunchy.  The batter made with chickpeas gave them a nutty flavor that was unique to most fried appetizer type items.
We also shared Chicken Makhni which was small boneless pieces of Tandoori chicken cooked with many spices (according to my research, usually fenugreek, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and pepper), and in a very rich buttery, thick tomato-ey sauce.  I am guessing there is some cream in there too.   This dish really grew on me, it had such a rich buttery flavor that was just enriched by the tomato paste and was not turned into a tomato sauce per se.  Also, it does not have the coconut flavor of several other Indian dishes I have tried, which I appreciated, as I generally don’t care for the sweetness coconut milk adds.  The chicken was amazingly tender in the sauce.  I was impressed that something that had obviously been cooked for such a long time was so tender and not dried out at all.  It was served with long grain Basmati rice mixed with a few green peas.
On the side we ordered Naan, which is a traditional Indian bread that is flat and large but with two layers (think pita-ish but much more the size of a small pizza crust) and cooked in the Tandoori oven.  So the top and bottom are slightly blackened in spots.  In our case, we decided to get a variation called “Keema Naan” which was stuffed with minced lamb and onions.  While I enjoyed the Naan, I think I would have preferred it without the meat, which I don’t think really added much to it.  I think the bread on its own, or one of the variations on the menu with garlic on top or cheese inside might be more interesting and next time would be likely to try one of those instead.
I enjoyed this lunch and felt like we did a good job picking things that we enjoyed but honestly, like I said, this is not an area I feel like I know exactly what I want.  And the menu at India Garden is huge.  I noticed a lot of seafood dishes that sounded quite interesting as well.  So, I am asking you, what are your favorite Indian dishes and why? And where do you like to eat them in Indy?
India Garden
830 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indy 46220
317/253-6060



India Garden on Urbanspoon

11 comments:

  1. I love Dal - lentils or beans... and the Tarka Dal at India Garden is probably my favorite.

    But often enough we wind up eating Indian at home. Trader Joe's has some great garlic naan in their frozen section. And while high in sodium, I enjoy both the Amy's frozen meals as well as the perpared packets from Kitchens of India (rajma dal being my favorite - and it is on sale this month from amazon.com)

    -Tom H

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  2. I think you chose well! My husband I feel the same way about the specialty Indian breads - you're better off with plain old buttered naan. It is delicious when used to sop up sauce.

    Even though I think the dishes served on buffets are a bit watered-down and possibly overcooked, they are a great way to sample what you might want to order a full plate of in the future.

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  3. D'you know of Shalimar, just a few hundred feet from India Garden, next to that (no-so-good, IMO) Thai Cafe...

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  4. I do love Indian Garden--had my wedding reception at the location downtown. Generally my husband and I like going there for dinner so we can order off the menu (instead of the buffet). We like our dishes spicier than what is offered on the buffet.

    If you like garlic, I recommend the garlic naan--we always get it to accompany our meals. My husband likes the lamb biryani & chicken shahi korma--I usually go for the chicken makhni or tikka masala. I also LOVE palak paneer, but haven't been overimpressed w/India Garden's version. Also, while a lot of Indian places do great dal dishes, India Garden doesn't so much.

    --beffuh

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  5. India Palace (off Lafayette Rd, N of Lafayette Square) is also not bad, run by the same person who runs Shalimar. Udupi Cafe ("inside" the complex, next to the Indian grocer there) just next door to India Palace has vegetarian Indian food - panned by some, loved by others.

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  6. There is also a Pakistani restaurant called Village Restaurant in a strip mall behind India Palace (on Century Plaza Rd, I think) you could check out. Pakistani food differs from Indian food in the way they use spices - also they largely don't use cream, whereas Indian food does.

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  7. India Garden is my favorite Indian buffet in town, but I typically go to the one downtown, next to BARcelona Tapas. If you find an Indian buffet (and, they're almost ALL buffets at lunch), I'd recommend trying it. Especially if you go at the middle of the lunch time when things are turning over well. What is nice about an Indian buffet, if you're not up on a lot of the dishes, is that you can try a lot of things at one time to find out what you DO like, if you go back to order individual entrees. India Garden's garlic naan is deluxe.

    I really like vindaloo dishes, but typically don't find them on buffet lines (it is a red curry that is pretty hot). I also really enjoy some of the standards like tikka masala and butter chicken. And, I enjoy many of the paneers, the one with peas the best, and the one with spinach and the squares of cheese after that. There is also a vegetarian dish with cauliflower that is pretty commonly on the India Garden line downtown that I really enjoy.

    India Palace, just North of Lafayette Sqaure, has a Sunday evening buffet, which has been a nice way for us to help introduce friends uninititated with Indian food to the cuisine. They also have some really nice curried goat.

    Amber Indian up on Meridian near 126th allows you to get your own fresh naan brought to the table during the lunch buffet, with a choice of regular or garlic. That's pretty sweet.

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  8. India Garden has wonderful Indian food, and I also highly recommend Amber on 126th and Meridian. The Channa Batura there is really good.

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  9. I've always liked chicken tikka masala (very similar to the chicken makhani you tried) and nav ratan shahi korma (vegetables in a creamy/nutty sauce with cashews, raisins, and cheese).

    Our bread of choice is bhatura - think elephant ear without the cinnamon sugar. Totally unhealthy, but so yummy.

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  10. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673527

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  11. I re-tried the (limited) lunch buffet at India Garden in Broad Ripple the other day. Reminded me why I'm not keen on the place.

    Sad lettuce with black edges. Too creamy/heavy/mud-pie under-spiced meat curries. Blah veggie curries. OK onion fritters, rice. Non-descript tandoori chicken (with sad onions, juice-less limes).

    The cook is from Northern India (Delhi) but the food is heavily modified for local tastes, as acknowledged by one of the staff. (The stuff I ate while growing up in SE Asia is very little like this)

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Thanks, Erin