India House

Twin Cities, Minnesota


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rating star

Indian food is the great tragedy of my life. I was born into it and I can't escape it (nor would I try to) and, yet, I find myself dissatisfied 99% of the time at Indian restaurants pretty much anywhere in the world (including India).

In this case I'm talking about that Indian restaurant in your neighborhood. You know, the one with the buffet, and the tandoori dishes and the naan. The one with either Bollywood music or Mughal elevator tunes playing. The one with "India" or "mahal" or "palace" in its name. Yeah, that one.

India House falls into all of those categories. It is, in terms of food, an imprecise disappointment. The food here isn't bad per se, and it's more than edible, but the flavors are wrong and the preparations are botched.

I went to India House twice to put it through its paces, once for lunch, and once for dinner. The first time around I had an order of samosas ($5), tofu masala (~$9), and a tandoori roti ($2). The samosas were okay; the best part was the cilantro chutney they provided which was unusually fresh, coarsely chopped and spicy. It felt more like a great pico de gallo.

The tofu masala, however, was totally wrong: the tofu was not cooked (it was just dumped into the dish) and the curry was turned into a pasta sauce more than a proper curry. This is an easy mistake to make. The true measure of an Indian restaurant is whether it can make a tomato-based sauce into a curry, rather than pasta sauce. India House failed the test.

The tandoori roti was whole wheat and well made. Kudos to them for offering a whole wheat option; deep sixes to them for not offering brown rice.

For round two I had a chana saag (chickpeas and spinach) (~$9) and a bangan barta (eggplant) (~$9). Both dishes were spicy, as I had requested, but both also felt to be missing something. They were edible but flat and empty. I did like, though, that India House doesn't douse every dish in tons of oil. There's a light touch here which is appreciated; I just wish their recipes were better.

I give India House three stars because, while the food is only passable, the service is friendly and the prices and portion sizes do represent a good value. But, if you're looking for better Indian or Indian-style food, check out Delights of India (Minneapolis) or Everest on Grand (St. Paul).

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