Since I first tried it my freshman year of college, Indian food has become one of my go-to takeout cuisines. I order it when I’m famished since the portions are typically huge, and it has never served me wrong.
The Lansing area has a wide selection of Indian restaurants, and I’ve had the pleasure of trying a handful of them. East Lansing’s Hannah Plaza has two, and though I love Sree Saffron, I decided to give Sindhu a try to see how it compared.
As soon as I brought the food into my car, the aroma of fragrant spices filled the entire space, causing my mouth to water and my stomach to make absolutely ungodly noises. The drive home was painstaking, but I finally made it to my door and unpacked what felt like an early Christmas gift to myself.
I’ll admit that I have a pretty basic palate, and I typically order chicken tikka masala or butter chicken because I love a creamy tomato gravy, but I decided to change things up and go with the chicken vindaloo. I’ve heard nothing but praise for vindaloo dishes my friends and family have tried, and I felt like I was missing out. Spoiler alert: I definitely was.
I laid out the basmati rice on one side of the plate, the vindaloo on the other and my garlic naan on top. This is an important step, as I believe the components are the most delicious when they’re combined into one forkful. My first bite took me to another planet, one where cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cloves and chili peppers reign supreme and carbs are to be adored, not avoided.
The chicken was incredibly tender, almost falling apart, and the spicy, vinegary sauce sent my taste buds into overdrive. I ordered my vindaloo at a medium heat level, so it wasn’t over-the-top spicy, but it was enough to make me reach for a glass of water to cool myself down. The rice and bread were great for soaking up the heat and bringing everything down to a more Midwestern-friendly level of spice.
I was also thrilled to find large chunks of potato in the curry, which were also very tender and created a kind of roulette-like situation where I didn’t know what I would be biting into each time I went back for another helping. In the best way possible, of course.
It’s hard to get basmati rice wrong, but I did appreciate the overstuffed styrofoam takeout containers of rice that will be feeding me for days. Speaking of carbs, the garlic naan was soft and pillowy and charred on the edges, topped with a satisfying amount of butter, garlic and parsley. If you’re not a garlic fan, I would go with a different type of bread, but I really enjoyed the notes of sharp garlic and rich butter combined with the spicy vindaloo sauce.
Like the rice, I also had a lot of sauce left over when I finished the chicken and potatoes, so I’ll probably use it for one of my favorite post-Indian-restaurant dishes, curry pasta. Instead of pasta sauce, I use whatever Indian sauce I have left over, and it’s like rediscovering pasta all over again. You can also add any type of meat, tofu or paneer, an Indian cheese I think could work well in place of mozzarella. Bolognese, marinara and pesto are so last year, anyway.
I’m going to have to do some hard thinking the next time I visit the Hannah Plaza for Indian food. There are two fantastic restaurants, and with similar price points and portion sizes, you really can’t go wrong. What I do know, though, is that there are many fantastic options beyond butter chicken and tikka masala, and I have a lot more exploring to do.
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