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New in Town: India Bistro

The menus at most Indian restaurants can be daunting. Do you get the chicken curry or the lamb tikka masala? The house-special biryani or the vegetable korma? Deciding from more than 60 northern-Indian specialties while standing at the counter of India Bistro, a Plainfield walkup that opened in late March, can leave you wishing you could try it all. Better, perhaps, to come back at lunch, when you can choose five or six items from a bubbling-hot steam table—less a buffet, really, than the line at your school cafeteria (if you moved it to New Delhi). Thankfully, this place, with its tiny fireplace nook for lounging, exposed ductwork, and serpentine wall of raw-wood cutouts, has none of the dusty, faux formality found at many international spots. Instead, a mix of high tables and sleek wood-backed bistro chairs pairs with a trio of TVs above the counter with ordering instructions. Starters include two chaat (traditional street food) options, as well as samosas, chicken wings, and curious Chinese-inspired dishes such as pakora Manchurian, vegetable dumplings tossed in a tangy sweet-and-sour sauce. Plentiful goat and lamb entrees include goat mughlai, cubes of tender meat with mushrooms and herbs in a creamy sauce that would be equally at home on a Parisian table. Traditional aloo gobhi offers substantial chunks of caramelized cauliflower and potatoes, though this version wanted for a bit of salt. A deeply smoky undertone of grilled eggplant in the baingan bhartha made the dish a hit. The somewhat awkward self-service nature of the place is easy to overlook with a menu so fresh and a strip-mall atmosphere so unexpected. 130 N. Perry Rd., Plainfield, 317-742-7300, indiabistro.net
 
This article appeared in the August 2014 issue.

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.
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