October 24, 2010

Dining in Des Moines: India Star

A plate full of Indian goodness:
Clockwise from upper left:
Tandoori Shrimp Masala w/ basmati rice, Tandoori Shrimp, Ginger Chicken Kabab,
Seekh Kabab (Lamb), Tandoori Chicken Drumstick, Chicken Tikka and a slice of lime

Since we started on our current cooking craze, we have eaten at restaurants only a handfull of times.  The past Friday was one of those times, by necessity due to our plans to travel and spend some time with family on Friday night and most of Saturday.  Since we had to eat out anyhow, we decided to go to one of our very favorite local restaurants:  India Star.

India Star is, quite simply, the best Indian restaurant in the Des Moines area.  It has a wide selection of dishes and is reliably good, and the prices are great.  On this occasion, we got an appetizer, two entrees, bread and a cup of chai for Juli for $32.82. 

India Star features North Indian cuisine, including Tandoori cooked in an authentic tandoor.  In addition to a full menu, which includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, India Star also does a popular lunch buffet, catering and a fairly brisk carry-out business.

The restaurant offers tables of different sizes, as well as booths.  The decor is pleasant but unobtrusive, and Indian music plays in the background.  Service is quick and friendly, with drinks refilled often.  The restaurant is impeccably clean.

As an appetizer, we ordered vegetable samosas, which are our favorite of India Star's appetizer selections.  The crisp pastry shells are stuffed with spiced potatoes, onions and green peas.  The samosas come with two chutneys, a mint-cilantro one and a tangy tamarind sauce.  Both are excellent, as are the samosas themselves.

For my entree, I ordered the Tandoori Mixed Grill.  The charcoal-grilled meats are delivered on a steaming-hot platter, atop a bed of onion and pepper slices and flanked by fresh lime wedges.  The mixed grill includes a bit of five of India Star's six Tandoori dishes (Tandoori Chicken, Tandoori Shrimp, Chicken Tikka, Ginger Chicken Kabab and Seekh Kabab (the only one left off is the Boti Kabab, which is chunks of lamb marinated in a yogurt and ginger sauce).  Each of these selections is delicious, though on this particular occasion the Chicken Tikka was a tiny bit overcooked, which is the first time I've ever encountered that at India Star.

Naan, Tandoori Shrimp Masala and rice
Juli's entree was the Tandoori Shrimp Masala, which is her very favorite dish at India Star.  Several Tandoori-grilled shrimp are served up in a rich, spicy tomato-cream gravy.   It was also delicious, as always.   India Star includes a variety of Indian breads, including some stuffed naans, but as usual, on this occasion we just went with a double order of the regular naan.  Puffy, soft on the inside while just a tiny bit crisp on the outside, it's dependably great.

For a time earlier this year, we ate at India Star at least once a week.   Friday night was the first time we've been there in over two months, but that's simply because we haven't been eating out much at all of late.  When we do decide to go out, India Star is on our very short list of favorite restaurants, and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

India Star is at 5514 Douglas Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa.  If you know you like good Indian food, or are curious to give it a try, and happen to be in Des Moines, check it out.  You won't be disappointed.

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