Luncheon Menu, Appetizers, Soups, Breads, Drinks & Dessert
Luncheon Menu served from 11:30-3:00 (click to enlarge)
by Richard Jay Scholem
Indian food has always had a low profile in Huntington Village, where only one restaurant serves it. Recently the identity of that one storefront changed when House of India, a value -packed spot replaced Indus, a Pakistani-Indian eating place, at 256B Main Street in Huntington Village (631-271-0059). It’s an improvement, especially when the sometimes timid kitchen cuts loose with garlic, ginger, cardamom, mint, mustard seed, cilantro, curry leaves, peppers and onions.
Although Americans tend to shy away from spicy dishes, at House of India the hot preparations were consistently tastier and more interesting than those ordered mild or medium.
A bearded, turbaned Sikh greets newcomers to the serene House of India, where women from the subcontinent, attired in suids, or flowing, flower-decorated gowns over long silken pants, glide through the dining room with its white tablecloths, candles, artificial flowers, crystal chandelier, Indian plates and prints, samovar and secluded alcove.
Most entrees here are in the $7.95 to $12.95 range. Soups cost around $3, while all but one of the hot appetizers is priced between $1.25 and $4.25. Desserts go for $3 to $3.95 and breads, the stars of the evening, range from $1.95 to $4.50.
There is no bread sampler on the menu, but at these prices, even thrifty eaters can create their own from among the selections available. They offer a fascinating diversity of sizes, shapes and flavors. Some are rich and powerful, others subtle and refreshing. They are roasted, baked and fired, fluffy and light or stuffed and substantial. Pay special attention to the ones made in the tandoor; they exude an addictive, smoky aroma. The garlic nan ($2.95) is one such possibility as is the basic nan ($1.95). Both these leavened bread choices are infused with butter and flavor. Tasty too was onion kulcha ($2.95), the herb and onion stuffed nan specialty from northern India. Even the pita-like tandoori roti ($1.95) was worth a shot. Puri ($2.95), two large, hollow, airy globes, made heads turn in the dining room. Stick a fork in one and it will go poof like a balloon. tear it apart with your fingers and use it to absorb the luxuriant entree sauces. Only the potato-stuffed breads proved to be dull.
The competent kitchen crew at House of India displayed some inconsistency as well. The mulligatawny soup ($2.95), an English-Indian vegetable purée collaboration, was flat on one visit and vibrant on another. The mixed tandoori platter ($15.95) was cooked on skewers in charcoal and served with curry sauce and crisp fringed onions, included red-hued, moist, dark chicken, slightly dry white meat morsels, a vibrant spice-fueled minced lamb cylinder and stringy, chewy stew-quality lamb chunks.
The seafood specialties, all accompanied by soup, scored the highest ranking among the main courses, and the house dinner for two ($34.95) was a bargain-priced survey course in Indian cuisine with its soup, six appetizers, two curries, pappadam, pillaw rice, yogurt, chutney, gulab jamun, or deep fried, honey-soaked pastry ball dessert, and tea or coffee.
Lobster curry, tender nubbins in a rich, mild sauce at $17.95 was the most expensive entree, and shrimp shahi korma ($15.95), sturdy sizable fellows in a creamy cashew-studded sauce, ordered hot was the spiciest. Buttery chicken ($11.95), boneless pieces of meat from the tandoor in tomato sauce, and the mellow rogan josh ($12.95), tender, fat-fringed lamb flavored with lots of garlic, ginger, onions and tomatoes, were two of the superior dishes.
Madras fried shrimp ($9.95), savory little tidbits presented with puri and given a spicy jolt by its green peppers, was the starter of choice, although the hot appetizer variety tray ($8.95), with its assortment of patties, fritters and turnovers, would feed a table of four.
Homemade mango ice cream ($3.50), embedded with fresh fruit, eclipsed all the other sweets.
Service at House of India, a new restaurant still finding its way, was earnest and concerned, but hesitant and tentative, sometimes deferential to a fault (as when no one appeared to take an order) and then premature (as when our check was presented before we finished our dessert). Yet House of India offered adventurous diners an opportunity to sample and share many intricately spiced, seductively herbed, complex presentations.
By Luann & Amanda
Every day on Main Street can be an Indian feast if you know where to look.
Main Street’s House of India has been a family-run cultural hub for Huntington village since 2001. Celebrating 10 years this month, chef/owner Sukhdev Singh has much to be proud of, cooking up tastes from his native country for local patrons.
House of India has authenticity written all over it, from hearing tales of the homeland to the décor. During our visit last week, we listened as Singh told us of the grandeur of a two-week wedding feast back home that he recently returned from, while his wife, Ushe Rani, dressed in a beautiful pink sari, told us about traditional Indian dances and dress. The room is decorated with chandeliers and artwork of places like the Taj Mahal lines the walls.
The menu is full of traditional dishes, some of which we were familiar with and others we had never heard of. Luckily for us, our waiter, Singh’s son Kam, and his father were able to make stellar recommendations.
We started with a few Indian drink specialties. We first woke our taste buds with Mango Lassi ($4.95), a thick, smoothie-like drink made with homemade yogurt and mango flavor. We then went a little lighter with an Indian wine, a rosé from Vinsura Vineyards (2009, Nashik). A blend of Chenin blanc and cabernet, the wine is light, smooth and reminded us of a cool summer night; it complemented the spices that followed perfectly.
Both the Vegetable Samosas and Bhujia appetizers are sure winners. The samosas ($4.50 for two) are large, crisp puffs stuffed with potatoes, peas and Indian spices – a delicious teaser of what Indian food is all about. Bhujia ($5.95), a plate of vegetable fritters, reminded us much of a knish, filled with onion, green pepper, potatoes and spinach. Alongside these came an array of tasty dips and spreads – a smooth mint sauce, a cool cucumber/yogurt-like dip, zesty onion chutney which had a slight kick to it, and tamarind, a sweet brown sauce. All were excellent, though the onion chutney and tamarind delivered the most flavor.
We know nan (leavened bread) is a must-have at Indian restaurants, so we went with the Garlic version ($3.95) and something more adventurous, the Piswari nan, which ended up being one our favorite dishes of the night. Piswari nan ($5.95) is flour bread stuffed with almonds, cashews, nuts, raisins, pistachios and coconut powder. Deliciously sweet and nutty, we could have had it for dessert.
We had trouble picking a favorite from our entrees. If you’re with a group, consider asking for one big plate of rice and sharing a few dishes; the variety is worth it. Chicken Tandoori ($13.95 half/$24.95 full) comes out sizzling like a fajita. Served on the bone with grilled vegetables, the chicken is marinated in yogurt, garlic, ginger, vinegar and Indian spices and cooked on skewers in a charcoal clay oven. House of India makes sure to keep the chicken moist but still with a fiery barbecue-like taste to it.
We couldn’t get enough of the Butter Chicken ($16.95), boneless chicken cooked in a fresh, creamy tomato sauce, blended and smooth. This was the only dish we ordered “medium” on the spice meter – the rest we ordered mild – and the heat kept on coming, reducing the tomato flavor to merely a hint. It’s the kind of heat you love in a spicy dish.
House of India does a great job with lamb as well. In Rogan Josh ($17.95), tender lamb is cooked with yogurt, tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic and spices in a curry sauce. With many flavors at work, they blended into a combination pleasing to the palate after the spicy Butter Chicken. Lamb Shag ($17.95) is another to try if you like spinach with some pop to it.
The restaurant also boasts an array of vegetable specialties, not surprising given our fondness of our two appetizers. We found the Channasaag ($14.95) particularly good, made with spinach and chick peas in a spicy curry sauce. It’s all the flavor without the meat. The Chicken Tandoori, as well as other lamb, chicken and vegetable curries, is on the luncheon menu. For $9.95 Tuesday through Sunday, patrons get a curry dish, cup of soup, nan, rice and onion chutney.
The Indian specialties continue into dessert. Consider the Gulab Jamun ($4.50). Small deep-fried balls of dough are soaked in sweetness and served warm in a pool of honey syrup and rosewater. The sweet treat is a great way to end your meal.
With more on the menu we’re excited to try, we eagerly await the summer when the windows on Main Street fly open and the flavors of India come alive.
The Asian subcontinent is the focus of this serene Indian restaurant where you can enjoy vegetables samosas, saag paneer (spinach and cheese) and lamb boti kebab.