Visiting Khana Indian Grill was a marvelous experience, although mostly unplanned. My Mother and I had just finished a fundraising meeting for my choir and were driving in her car to pick up a prescription. There had been some debate of what we were going to eat. Since it was already upwards of 8:00, we wanted something quick and easy; however, though my stomach agreed with going to Taco Bell or McDonalds, my teeth did not. This was because a couple days ago I had gotten my spacers in, and my teeth hurt when chewing.
We considered going to a Pho restaurant. Pho is one of our favorite soups, being a Vietnamese noodle blend with delicious spices and broth, along with meat and bean sprouts. Soup not only sounded delicious, but would be easy on my teeth as well, so we decided to send me inside to get a menu. I walked into the restaurant, which was empty save an elderly Vietnamese couple. The only thing that was moving was the golden cat by the cash register, which was methodically moving its’ paw back and forth, back and forth, waving at the door which I had just now darkened. The man who was sitting at a table stood up, asking in broken English, “Can I help you?” My reply was that I wanted a takeout menu, so my Mom and I could discuss what we wanted to eat. Upon him telling me that they did not have a takeout menu I, somewhat abashed and not knowing what to do next, thanked them and walked out of the building.
Mom was in the car waiting. I told her what had happened, and upon discussion we decided that since we didn’t even know if the food would be good, it was too late at night to attempt eating there. Also, I think we were both too tired to attempt facing the elderly Vietnamese couple.
We kept driving, ‘til suddenly inspiration struck. “Why don’t we go to Khana Indian Grill?” Mom said. “That sounds great!” We had to the restaurant before, and had a wonderful experience. While we waited at the stoplight, we decided what we would get off their online menu, then called the restaurant to order online. We decided on a platter for two that sounded absolutely fabulous; the Super Indian platter. It came with a Samosa, Tamarind and Cilantro Chutney, Chickpea Chole, Turmeric Potato, Choice of Chicken or Paneer, (we chose Paneer), Tikka Masala, Yogurt Raita, Pappadum, Naan, Basmati Rice, and Kheer, all for twenty dollars.
One thing I liked about the menu is that there were two kids plates. There was one for big kids and one for little kids, so you can change the serving size. As we often find that kids’ meals are too small for us, or for our little brother too large, this seemed very convenient to me.
We drove for a little while longer, finally pulling up beside a brightly lit and colorful restaurant. The prominent windows showed a cheery and decidedly exotic interior, lit by different colored ornate lanterns hanging from the ceiling. A few people were inside, but due to the late hour there were not many.
As we opened the door leading inside, a delicious aroma stopped us in our tracks. It was spicy, and smelled like herbs. You could smell all the wonderful things cooking in the kitchen in that one whiff. There was the garlic and bready scent of the naan, the spice of the sauces and meats, and the herb smell of the chutneys and seasonings. In short, it was heavenly. I would say that I could have sniffed it the rest of the night, but that would be entirely untruthful. I could not have stayed still for long without having a bite of that food.
Walking up to the cash register the smell only got stronger, making me even more aware that my stomach was rumbling like some huge thunderstorm. The man at the counter, (incidentally, the manager of the Khana Indian Grill) said that the order would be ready in a few minutes. Meanwhile, Mom and I asked him questions; about his inspiration for his dishes, and where he got the beautiful light fixtures that were hanging from the ceiling. He answered both of our questions, seeming to enjoy the company. It could not have been more that ten minutes until he handed us the food we had ordered, and with a huge smile Mom and I both thanked him.
We had decided to eat in the car since the Grill was close to closing, so we walked outside into night air that, though warm, seemed cold compared to the warm interior of the restaurant. Inside the vehicle, we dug into the bag of food, giddy with excitement and hunger. There was one small container that when opened revealed a rice pudding, Moms’ favorite. Next there was a paper box with a samosa inside, and two different dipping chutneys. Also inside the bag were two aluminum foil wrapped parcels, which contained naan and some sort of spiced chip, the pappadum. Lastly, we found the main box with rice and curry, Paneer on top. On the side was the turmeric potato, yogurt raita and chickpea chole.
It was all wonderful. The samosa was slightly spicy, with the flaky crust and herb chutney setting off the flavor nicely. The garlic naan everything naan should be, buttery, flavorful, and perfect for cooling down the spicy flavors of the curry. The pappadum was beautifully crunchy, and seasoned perfectly. It was made from chickpeas, and a very healthy alternative to potato chips, in addition to tasting better.
Tasting the turmeric potatoes, I was surprised by the spicy and yet fresh flavor they held. They were quite tasty, though to my tastes much preferable on naan, to lower the spice level. The chickpea chole was delicious also, with a more earthy, spiced flavor. However, the curry was probably my favorite. The basmati rice underneath was a perfect addition to the flavorful, spicy, and mouthwatering sauce. It was decidedly Indian, aromatic and with those classic spices. The paneer over it was generously spread, and went well with the curry. It was slightly squeaky under your teeth, with a lovely smooth flavor.
Lastly, the rice pudding. It was sweet, but not too much. With the perfect texture, and lovely clean, fresh jasmine flavors, it was complemented mouth-wateringly by the almonds on top. This delectable meal was quite something to remember that night by. My family will definitely come back to Khana Indian Grill for more.