I’m going to be honest. The only reason that I suggested we review India Pavilion was to create another excuse to eat there. Indian food isn’t even my favorite type of cuisine (#chinesefood4lyfe), but India Pavilion is my favorite restaurant in town. There’s something ironically homey about being surrounded by the exotic smells of curry and tandoor roasted meats.
I didn’t grow up eating Indian food. I didn’t even taste my first bite of it until a high school friend invited me over to his house. His mom would always insist on cooking for us even if we weren’t hungry, creating a dazzling spread of naan, saag paneer, and lentils. The combination of warm spices and love are, what I think, make Indian food so welcoming (especially on a cold day).
India Pavilion is the epitome of what Indian food is all about, and I was determined to share this delicious fact with Katie Blitz, a long-time enthusiast, but first-time diner.
Pappadum: These crispy, paper-thin crackers are made out of lentils and spices and are served as soon as you sit down. This is ideal — I love having something to munch on while waiting for my companions to peruse the menu (I don’t even bother since I get the same thing every time). The pappadum is paired with a green yogurt sauce and a tangy brown sauce, which is my favorite of the two.
Naan: Naan is the quintessential Indian flatbread, and it is not to be overlooked. Not once have I been to India Pavilion without ordering a basket of it. There are several different kinds of naan to choose from, including garlic and onion. I use mine as a sort of utensil for the rest of the meal, so I generally just stick to plain.
Chicken Makhani: I get the Chicken Makhani every time I go to India Pavilion because it’s everything I want when I eat Indian food – rich, comforting, and well-spiced. This dish is also known as “Butter Chicken” and for good reason. It lives up to its name with the rich flavor and creamy texture. The chicken is moist and tender enough to cut with a fork. It sits in a swath of orange-colored tomato cream sauce, full of fragrant spices and herbs. The tomatoes provide a nice tang that cuts through the richness of the sauce and the dark meat of the chicken.
Although the tenderness of the chicken is nice, the sauce makes the meal. I always save a bit of my naan bread for the very end so I can wipe my bowl completely clean. Not only is this dish amazing, but it’s a good place to start if you’ve never tried Indian food before. All the components are familiar, but combined in a new way.
Chicken Tikka Masala: The Chicken Tikka Masala is very similar to the Chicken Makhani, but substitutes dark meat for white meat. The sauce that covers the chicken is not only spicy, but has a ton of flavor. The naan bread was perfect for dipping in the extra sauce that came with the chicken. -Katie Blitz
Also, don’t forget to check out India Pavilion’s lunch buffet! It’s all-you-can-eat and only $7.95. You can also get take-out for $4.50 a pound. If you still aren’t sure about Indian food, these are cheap ways to try a lot of different dishes.
India Pavilion is located at 222 East Calder Way between Pugh Street and McAllister Street.