Sunday, March 6, 2011

India House

I'm always eager to try an Indian restaurant wherever I travel, so when I was in Northampton, MA the other night, I ventured into this cozy little spot on State Street, right next to Fly by Night Furniture (which has been there over 20 years).  At 6:00, India House was packed, and they don't take reservations.  So, I gave my name and patiently stood shoulder to shoulder in the foyer for 20 minutes along with all the other hungry guests.  This gave me time to ponder the menu, which was not only extensive, but also noted that the kitchen caters to those with special diets, such as gluten-free and vegan.  I wondered excitedly, could this possibly be my first chance in years to eat bread with my meal?

It was.  Though slightly more dense and chewy, Alka's Punjab Paratha was a gluten-free vegan version loaded with flavor from the clay oven and crispy edges, and topped with a light chiffonade of fresh herbs.  It was nonetheless perfect for soaking up the sauce from my entree.

I always try to order something I can't find elsewhere for my main course, so this night I decided to try the Vegetable Kofta Saag, a twist on the usual Saag Paneer which is curried spinach with cheese cubes.  The kofta are light vegetable dumplings, made with a gluten-free batter of chickpea flour, then pan-fried until crisp.  They soaked up the pureed spinach sauce nicely, which was also happily vegan.

I was also pleased to find that I could sample a dessert here, as there was a warm coconut soup on the menu.  The coconut milk was pleasantly soothing on a crisp night, and the shredded coconut and chopped pistachios added even more richness along with their crunch.  As this was my first experience at India House, I'm already dreaming of a return visit, perhaps on a weeknight where the wait is not so long.

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