Like a moth to a bug-zapper.

Upon arrival I was completely blinded by the building next door.


That’s more or less what the sign was telling us. It made me concerned that the restaurant would be as hokey and touristy as the building next door. Moments later I found that it was an unfair conclusion to draw. Entering the Passage to India (at the risk of sounding cliche) I felt as if the door I had entered was, The passage to India.

The aroma’s of mingled spices strikes you in the nose. Authentic music drifts lightly over the over your ears. The dim mood-setting lights play over the room. The room is set with many shelves set up over every booth against the walls and on every surface sits a piece Indian artwork. Small sculptures, most of which seemed to have some religious significance. Hanging from the walls were paintings hung in frames depicting various scenes.

Our host, who was also our server, poured our glasses of water. Which was a nice change of pace. He offered us several different options between soda’s and juices. When he said ‘Mango Lassi’ I immediately had to try it. Namely because I had no idea what it was. Come to find out it was a drink made with yogurt mixed with milk or water and spices. In my case mixed with mango! This drink was designed for eating spicy food. It was sweet, tangy and cooled the fires the upcoming meal had started. (totally worth the five bucks)

We started off with an appetizer, it was close, but we went with Paneer Pakora. Paneer refers to a home made cheese and pakora being the method it was prepared (breaded and fried.) It was served with a spicy mint sauce and a sweet Tamarind sauce. Over all I was underwhelmed. It felt like they had prepared it earlier and heated it briefly. The flavor of the cheese was too mild for my tastes. The sauces were both quite tasty.

For dinner I ordered Chicken Tandori. Tandori, being a reference for how the chicken was prepared (with the Tandoor oven which is super, super hot.) There were two choices with the chicken, I went with the one I felt was more authentic. Half a chicken serving both thigh and breast. The other option being chicken breast. My food was set on a place, chicken on top of onions and peppers all seasoned in a delightfully red color. Next to that was a bowl containing rice. It wasn’t until our food was brought to the table that I realized my mistake.

In my rush to be authentic, I neglected to think of the bones. While they add flavor and some would say moisture, to the chicken. They prevented me from tearing into dinner as fast as I wanted to. Having been thwarted by the bones I began the task of removing the tasty bits and adding to the rice. The taste was phenomenal. Under normal circumstances I dislike onions and bell peppers. However, when it comes with a meal that is traditional, I simply have to put that to the side and enjoy. Which is exactly what I did.

The server had warned us of the hot nature of Indian food. I have the feeling he automatically underestimates the American palate (With good reason, I’ve met literally hundreds of people who refuse to eat anything “spicy”). I had ordered the ‘medium heat’ but it was what i would consider to be just under medium. After a while the heat began to build and I was once again singing the praises of my mango lassi.

Having never been to an Indian restaurant there was some excitement when it came to ordering dessert. What did Indian people eat for dessert? We settled on splitting the Goolab Jamin.

Imagine doughnut holes made from milk powder and flour. It was served in a syrup of cardamom and rose water. It was very dense and sweet. I probably couldn’t eat more than one or two total. The flavor was totally unique to any pastry I’ve had.

All in all, the whole experience was great. Thanks in part to our very knowledgeable and friendly server.

As a post script, I would like to mention, as you leave they have a small bowl of fennel seeds, not Mukhwas but fennel seeds. I was instructed that it was to freshen your breath and it made me think . . .

Yo dog I heard you like spices so we give you spices as you leave so your breath doesn’t smell like spices while you chew on your spices.

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