Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Preview

It has been nice out this weekend, 50s during the day (upper 20s overnight though) -- cool enough for Akemi's heavy coat and warm enough that we aren't strapped into Arctic tundra suits to take her out for walks. Mush!

Akemi enjoying the morning air

We're regulars at India's Cafe every since we walked through their door for the first time 1-1/2 years ago. The price of the buffet has gone up from $5.95 to $8.95, but so has the number of items offered. Also, the buffet is, instead, on the weekends so it's accessible without taking a day off from work.

Bug's plate

From the top left going clockwise, Bug had spinach and cheese, lentil, and lamb curries over basmati rice, pickles, pakora, and aloo baigan sabji (curried potatoes with eggplant).

The "aloo" dish rotates each time we've gone. My favorite is aloo gobi (potatoes with cauliflower).

There are always two vegetarian curries offered. The spinach and cheese curry is a mainstay. The other is usually a chickpea curry. Of course, this week it was lentil curry.

Samosa are also served with pakora as appetizers.

Papadum and pickles

We love their papadum, a delicate, thin, crisp, and smoky flavored chip with cumin seeds. I wish they were offered at stores along the chip aisle. Of course, this would never happen, as they are very delicate and would be pulverized one day out on the floor.

The pickles are a wonderful kick in the pants. I LOVE them! I still don't know what they're made of. At first, I thought they were limes because of the sourness, but there's a shell fragment attached that's similar to mango. I need to ask the owner one day.

Other offerings in the pickle platter are raw white onion slivers and chili peppers.


Their nan is always fresh made. While not being a huge fan of bread, I will eat nan by itself here. Some weeks, the bread offering changes from nan to poori or chapati. From what I've been able to gather, nan is baked using leavened white flour. Chapati is cooked on a griddle using unleavened wheat flour. Poori is deep fried using unleavened wheat flour. Thus far, the soft, tender, and light poori are my favorite!

My plate

My plate is a bit simpler. I had tandoori chicken, a spinach and cheese curry, and lamb curry over basmati rice. This is all I usually eat, plus dessert.

The red meat curry alternates between lamb and goat. I adore their goat curry. It comes bone in, versus the lamb that comes boneless. The two curries have a very rich, deep, spiced flavor, tasting a lot different from the chicken and vegetarian curries. Part of it must be the meat, but I'm sure different seasonings are used as well.

The chicken pan varies between tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and chicken curry. Despite not being a fan of chicken, I do love his chicken offerings. A lot. The tandoori chicken above had a slight smoky flavor and a dusting of spices. It's my favorite of the chicken dishes.

Bug and I shared a mango lassi ($2.99).

I forgot to take a picture of the two dessert offerings. I do not know the names of the desserts, but one was a cool, sweet, milky rice pudding. The other was not particularly sweet and looked like farina (Malt-o-Meal) with almond essence, honey or brown sugar, and slivered almonds sprinkled on top. It wasn't tightly packed like halvah, just the same texture as Malt-o-Meal that you'd eat at breakfast. I wanted to eat a vat of this!

The desserts from week to week vary. Aside from what we had recently, we've had a milky vermicelli dessert, dough ball in a light syrup that was surprisingly not cloying, carrot halvah, and mango ice cream.

A smart business move regarding spice level with the buffet is that the offerings are not spicy (hot/caliente!) at all, so those with gentle palates can enjoy everything offered without worrying that the food will sear on the way in and out. The heat can be layered by pairing the meal with the raw onions and chili peppers offered.

When ordering meals a la carte, the heat level is made to order. The serving sizes are huge, too.

The owner is a very kind man and makes us feel at home each time we go. He always remembers that I order mango lassi. We also see other regulars who, it seems, dine there more often than we do ranging from families, students, businessmen, to a gathering of grandfatherly men. We're almost always the only non-Indians in the restaurant, which, in my mind, gives the place a stamp of authenticity.

- Cassaendra

India's Cafe & Kitchen
5549 Ridge Rd
Parma, OH 44129
Tel: (440) 842-7724

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