India House celebrates independence day

India House celebrates independence day

By LIsa Palmeno

By Lisa Palmeno

Staff Writer

Locals seeking authentic ethnic food and culture can join the staff at India House on Aug. 15 for a special buffet. The restaurant opened at 6430 E. Riverside in 1998 and will be celebrating India’s Independence Day, which is the anniversary of their freedom from British rule in 1947.

The establishment is under the new ownership of Bijender Bisht, a master chef who received his training at 5-star hotels and working in Hong Kong for 12 years. The new manager is Jay S. Rawat, who has managed Indian restaurants in England, Gibraltar and Madrid.

The daily lunch buffet consists of salads, three fresh vegetables, lentils, rice, a nonvegetarian curry dish, dessert, yogurt, chutneys and pickles. The featured dishes, however, are the world-famous Tandoori chicken and naan bread, served at the table.

The curried chicken and fresh bread are cooked in a clay oven called a “tandoor,” with charcoals heating the receptacle to about 2000 degrees. The unleavened dough is made fresh, patted into flat “rotis” and rubbed on the sides of the tandoor for three to four minutes before being removed with metal rods. The two dishes were presented at the first industry expo held in the 1950s in Moscow, along with cuisine from all over the world. The Tandoori chicken and naan were commonly declared the tastiest dishes by the various heads of state who attended and sampled authentic foods. The exhibition is held every four years, with World Food Moscow 2001 being held in September.

The Aug. 15 buffet will have items from all parts of India, not just cuisine from the north (typically international) and south (regional fare) as usual. Lassi, a buttermilk type of drink with a roasted cumen seed flavoring, will be served that day.

Rawat explained that curried food is the number one dish in England and that almost every English household has Indian spices in all its forms. Curry is created from various mixtures of the following spices: cumen seed; coriander seed; green cardamom; cinnamon sticks; cinnamon leaves; cucumber seeds; cantaloupe seeds; turmeric powder; cloves; onion seeds; chili powder; ginger; lemon seed; and heeng.

Regular menu items include various chicken, lamb and vegetable dishes, such as Chicken Makhani (chicken pieces roasted in a clay oven and folded into a creamy tomato sauce); Lamb Rogan Josh (pieces of lamb in a cardamom flavored sauce); and Mattar Paneere (homemade cheese cubes cooked with green peas).

Rebecca Heese and the Smiths (Janet, Harvey and Chris) drove to Rockford from Milton, Wis. just to eat at India House. (see photo) They were seeking an Indian restaurant and knew there had been one in Rockford before Bisht took over the franchise, which has its largest restaurant in Schaumburg. Heesen commented, “The Naan’s the best. I love it.” Chris Smith said, “It always smells wonderful in here.”

The cost of the Independence Day buffet is $10 per person. The daily buffet price is $7.95. India House is open seven days a week, serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Dinner hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Monday thru Thursday and on Sunday and 5 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For information, call (815)637-4771.

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