House of India
Last semester, while I was studying abroad in England, Washington University’s English department required me to write an essay about how I developed as a “literary scholar.” They did not, however, want to hear about my culinary experiences.
Well, it was their loss. If they had asked, I would have told them about England’s amazing Indian cuisine and the fact that I may have become obsessed with a dish called chana masala.
Inevitably, my first food review back at Wash. U. brought me to a restaurant called House of India. I decided to go out to eat with my vegetarian friend on a Sunday. It just so happens that House of India is indeed one of the only restaurants nearby that is both vegetarian and open on Sundays. (Aside from one restaurant I discovered, which is apparently run by a cult. I decided against that one.)
The restaurant had a bright and pleasant interior. Booths lined the walls, and tables with white cloths graced the center of the room. Rose and light green curtains hung around the windows, which surrounded the dining room. Matching lights hung over the booths. Upbeat Indian music played at an appropriate volume in the background.
Now on to what you really care about: the food. Every day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., House of India holds a lunch buffet. Classic Indian dishes are offered in addition to a few unique ones you may not have tried before. They serve chicken tikka masala, chana masala, alu gobi, vegetable korma…the list goes on. The buffet was a pretty good deal, too. Without any fancy drinks (we just drank the free water), the whole buffet, which included dessert, cost $8.75 per person.
One of the first dishes I tried, and a favorite among my friends, was a corn salad, which consisted of kernels of corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions. The salad was a refreshing, cool complement to some of the hot and spicy dishes. Another tasty, cool salad called chane-ki-chaat was made with chickpeas, potatoes, chopped cucumber and onions in a mild mint and yogurt sauce.
The warm dishes were all quite good. My favorite was probably the vegetable korma, which was made up of mixed vegetables, including diced potatoes, peas and cauliflower, in a mild curry cream sauce. The chicken tikka masala was also a hit with its tender pieces of roasted chicken breast in a creamy tomato sauce. The alu gobi was another vegetarian masterpiece, made with cauliflower, potatoes, onions and fresh tomatoes.
We also enjoyed the paneer makhni, which was both savory and satisfying. Paneer is a type of cheese made in India and has a texture comparable to tofu. The cheese was sliced into bite-sized squares and mixed in a creamy, buttery tomato sauce. The sauce was outstanding over a bed of white rice. And last but not least, they did indeed serve my beloved chana masala. This chana masala was less sweet than the one I had in England, but it was still quite good. It consisted of steamed chickpeas mixed in a sauce of fresh tomatoes and onions with a hint of ginger and garlic.
After the feast, my friends and I took a breather and then made our way back to the buffet table to try the desserts. A variety of unique options were available. I tried one called jalebi. This bright orange, deep-fried treat was shaped similarly to a pretzel and was about the size of the palm of my hand. It had a crunchy texture and sweet, sugary flavor. My friends remarked that it reminded them of funnel cake, though crunchier but just as delicious.
So whether you’re craving Indian cuisine, have a vegetarian diet or are simply looking for something fun and different to do for lunch, check out the House of India. You certainly won’t leave disappointed, and you most definitely won’t leave with an empty stomach.
8501 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63124