Thursday, September 12, 2013

Amber Indian

So Indian food—you might have noticed I don’t have a ton of posts about it. It is a cuisine that I haven’t explored as in depth as I have a lot of others. But friends of ours have suggested to us to go to Amber Indian for a while so we wrangled our gaggle of kids and checked it out together. It was nice being with them because they are regulars at the place and really know what they like. They also were willing to order a ton of stuff (always my favorite way to go) so we got to try lots of things.

They served us some papadum to start—these are thin, crispy cracker-like discs that are sort of like the chips and salsa of Indian food. There was a sweet, slightly tart, thick brownish/purple sauce, a green cilantro-based sauce and a red spicy chili sauce. I enjoyed a bit of all of them. We also had an order of onion pakora ($3), which were little bits of onion battered with chickpea flour and other spices and deep-fried. I liked them because they had an interesting, almost nutty flavor. My son loved these and finished off everything that everyone else didn’t.

We ordered a ton of things like I said, but my favorite things were the chicken tikka masala (13.99) and the chana masala ($8.99).  The chicken in the tikka masala was super tender (it was seasoned and cooked in the tandoori oven) and the creamy sauce had a great complex flavor. There was certainly a cream type of base, and there was some tomato as well as a bit of coconut in this one. I really enjoyed it. The chana masala has chickpeas as a main ingredient. This one wasn’t cream-based and had more of a garlic and ginger flavor to it. It had a bit of heat as well. There were also bits of tomato and peppers and cilantro as a seasoning. The chickpeas were very tender and made it seem like a fairly meaty dish even though it was veggie.

We also had the chicken legs from the tandoori oven (they call them kebab chicken) ($7.99). These were also good and were popular with the kids. The meat had a nice flavor from being marinated with herbs and spices and was pretty tender—but not like the chicken tikka masala (maybe the sauce is what made it seem so tender). 

There was also a very spicy dish called vegetable jalfrezi ($8.99) as well. These were large pieces of lots and lots of kinds of veggies—things like cauliflower, carrots, peppers, green beans and corn. This was probably the spiciest dish we had and wasn’t my favorite just because it was so spicy. I did like that this dish had a lot more texture than much of the other dishes, which are a creamier, soft consistency.

We had the palak paneer ($9.99) as well which is like a creamed spinach dish with a few chunks of cheese mixed in. The creaminess in the spinach had a slight curry taste as well. You certainly need to like spinach to like this dish, which I do, but it was hard to eat a lot of it—better as a kind of side dish. There wasn't a lot of the cheese. Finally, we had the daal curry ($8.99), which is a lentil based curry with tomatoes and cilantro. This had more of a straight up yellow curry flavor which is my least favorite of the Indian flavors—must be the turmeric. 

The naan, which came included with everything (as well as white rice) was really, really good. Naan is a type of bread that is cooked in the tandoori oven until it is slightly blistered. A little similar to pita bread, but way better. You could get garlic or plain and we had half and half. I really liked the garlic one best myself, but I can’t see how you can’t improve almost anything with garlic. Honestly just dipping the Naan in all the dishes is what makes this cuisine. The rice is good to add a little texture, but the Naan, well, it was delicious.

I really enjoyed my meal and was really happy to try lots of different things. I think that is the key for me to get to know Indian food better. I am not sure if I would have ordered the chana masala if it had just been me, or just hubby and I, and I was really glad we did.

Now, since I am trying to delve a little deeper here, tell me where you like to get Indian in Indy, and what are your favorite dishes?

Amber Indian
12510 North Meridian
Carmel, In 46032

Amber Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. Amber is probably my favorite because it's right around the corner from my house. Spice Box (the truck and the new City Market location) always have great food as well.

    As far as favorite dishes, I honestly enjoy almost all Indian food, even the vegetarian offerings.

  2. I agree with Blake. We usually do Amber mostly because of location. Indy doesn't have exceptional Indian food, but I like it so much that I don't mind that it's not the same quality that you get in a bigger city. When I lived inside 465, I would usually do India Garden. There used to be a decent hole-in-the-wall place in Castleton, but it closed. I've also been told that Delhi Palace downtown is very good.

    I really like Tandoori chicken normally, but it's a difficult technique, and if not done well, it ends up being dry. Chana masala is near the top of my list too. My brother is a vegan, so when he comes to town, Indian food is always the easiest food to eat as a big group. And, thankfully, my three sons love it, so it's a good target.

    And...yes. Spice Box.

  3. India Garden will always be our favorite. Months could pass without us going there yet the owner always remembers us and treats us like we were just there the day before. Chicken tikka masala is my favorite too. The thick sweet sauce served with the papadum is made from tamarind. So yummy with paneer pakora.

  4. I have to throw in for Shalimar. It's my favorite. I'll go to Amber if I HAVE to, but Shalimar is definitely in my top 3 favorite restaurants in the city. The people who own Shalimar also own Delhi Palace near IUPUI and at 86th and Ditch.

    Joe, Amber actually opened up in the hole-in-the-wall place in Castleton that closed.

  5. Jessica in NoblesvilleSeptember 12, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    I love their lunch buffet, it's a great way to try many different flavors. You've tried my favorites, the chicken tikka masala and chana masala. Also love their different veggie pakoras and the dessert rice kheer (soft rice in coconut milk with cardamon). Service is always excellent. Love the Bollywood they play during lunch.

  6. I love Indian food and enjoy making it at home (well, I cheat and use garlic naan from Trader Joe's). I find the Indian restaurants in town as being kind of serviceable... nearly comparable to the La Hacienda / El Rodeo types of restaurants for Mexican cuisine. I enjoy them for what they're worth, but find the differentiation to be scant.

  7. Spice Nation over in Lafayette Square is probably my favorite Indian place in town. But it's so hard to choose because I pretty much love them all.

  8. I like Spice Nation a lot!

  9. Big fan of India Sizzling south of 116th on Allisonville. We're moving away from Indy, and I'm sad to be leaving places like Amber and India Sizzing.

  10. India Garden downtown is where I had my wedding reception. my husband and I love Indian food and were able to introduce lots of family members to it who had never had it. :) Lunch buffets are good for a variety, but I like going at dinner because then I can get my food spicy. ;)

    Chicken mahkni is one of my favorites--it's like chicken masala, but the chicken used is the tandoori chicken, so it has a bonus wonderful flavor. ;) A friend (not interested in spicy food) likes chicken korma--very mild and tasty.

  11. I love Indian food. I know buffets aren't the best way to go, but they are a good way to try a bunch of different things and most Indian restaurants offer a lunch buffet.

    I've been to the Carmel location of Amber Indian once and honestly, I didn't love it. Maybe it was an off night for me, because so many people love it, including a few of my Indian American friends. They did open a location closer to my house in Castleton, so perhaps I'll give it another try.

    I will echo that India Sizzling on Allisonville near 116th is my favorite. If you go, please get the Aloo Gobi appetizer: crispy, spicy, fried cauliflower (not overly breaded). It's fabulous. I sometimes get it as my meal with a bowl of the rasam soup (spicy!). Otherwise, I get the Chana Masala or the Paneer Tikka Masala. Hubby loves chicken korma, but he orders that at almost every Indian restaurant.

    We used to be big fans of Masala Kitchen in the strip mall at 96th & Allisonville, but they have new owners who changed the name to New India. We thought the service and food suffered after that and haven't been back in some time. But the menu is the same. I love the Punjabi Bhaji and they have this amazing Kashmiri naan that had cashews, almonds & raisins.

    Spice Box food truck is great; the owner is really nice and down to earth. Just had Dhaba Indy food truck this weekend and liked it, as well.

    Still need to try Spice Nation. In fact, now I am thinking we'll go there for dinner this weekend. Thanks for the idea!