This week I had the pleasure of eating at a Macalester student favorite, India House. Just down Grand, this restaurant is easily accessible to students by public transit and manageable on a college budget as well. India House is a great place to go with a group of friends as I did, but can work as a date spot as well. The interior of the restaurant is cozy, with warm colors and tapestries draped on the walls and pleasant and unintrusive music playing in the background. Beyond the ambiance, one of the first things that I noticed was the hospitality and good service. Almost immediately after being seated, my friends and I were offered water and asked if there was anything we were ready for right away, which of course there was.
Naan is a staple of Indian cuisine, and India House is no exception. My friends and I decided to try two different types of naan: garlic for starters and plain when the main courses arrived. Thankfully, it did not disappoint. The garlic flavor was present, but not overbearing as garlic definitely can be. The specialty naans, which include the garlic naan among a variety of others, are served with both coriander and tamarind chutneys, which complement the flavor of the breads nicely. Both chutneys were made with somewhat unusual spices, and I was certainly pleased with the flavors of both.
Although everyone enjoyed their orders and said they were all very tasty, I was only able to sample our two vegetarian dishes, despite having come with a larger group of friends. I ordered mutter paneer, which is a personal favorite, and my friend got palak paneer, both of which we gave excellent reviews. When placing our order we were asked the level of spice that we prefered, ranging from one to seven, with seven being the spiciest. I chose a medium four for the mutter paneer, and the palak paneer was ordered at a one, with essentially no spice at all. The food arrived quickly, as did the second round of naan and rice for the table.
The mutter paneer was delectable, with just the right balance of flavors. At a four out of seven, the spice was definitely present, but did not mask the flavors of the dish itself, allowing for the richness of the the garam masala to come through. The paneer had a very good texture and was not dry, holding itself together quite well. The curry itself was delicate in its flavor with a lighter tomato base, which blended well with the spice level that I added.
The palak paneer received superb reviews as well. Palak paneer is a dish that a lot of people do not enjoy due to the creamy spinach base. However, India House did a wonderful job balancing the different ingredients and textures of the dish, so that the spinach flavor did not detract from that of the paneer or the other mild spices in the dish. Without any additional spice being added to the dish, the flavors of the main ingredients came out even more clearly, and did not let us down.
Overall, I give India House a great review. From the warm ambiance, to the great service and even better food, it is certainly not a place you want to pass up.
India House is located at 758 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN 55105