September 07, 2011

Indian Oven - Omaha, Nebraska

As Juli mentioned in a post a couple days ago, we took a trip to Omaha last weekend.   Our first night there, we checked out our favorite Omaha restaurant, Indian Oven.  We found that things had changed since we'd last been there, but the food was still excellent.

The look of the restaurant has changed its look since we were last there, with a new sign and different decor.  The tablecloths are gone, resulting in the restaurant having a more casual look, and there are lots of paintings of elephants hanging on the walls, all done by the same artist.  We were informed by the manager that the restaurant was featuring the works of a rotating selection of local area artists, and was also doing events during which diners could meet and speak with the featured artist.

The menu has also changed.   The number of selections has gotten smaller, and features fewer of the typical Indian restaurant choices.  It also features a new selection of dishes, reflecting the heritage of the family that founded the restaurant.  These dishes are distinctly Indian, but likely less familiar to American patrons than those typically served in Indian restaurants.  The goal, we were told, was to make Indian Oven's menu distinct from that featured by other Omaha Indian restaurants.

We started with appetizers, first vegetable samosas, then meat samosas.  The vegetable samosas were excellent.  The meat samosas were very flavorful, perhaps too flavorful for what is usually a fairly mild appetizer, and we found them a bit salty for our taste.

For our main courses, we both selected from the new heritage section of the menu.  Juli choose the coconut chicken, while I picked a lamb dhansak.   Both were wonderfully flavorful and beautifully presented, with rich gravy.   Juli's dish (pictured at the top of this post) was a chicken curry made with coconut milk.  The lamb in my dish was tender and flavorful, while the tomato-based gravy had a delightfully smoky flavor to it, which the chef explained was due to roast carom seeds.  That is an ingredient I don't recall ever having tried before, and it was a really great touch.  We had naan with our main course, and it was exceptional, as always.

Juli also had a fruit drink, a sort of Indian lemonade.  It was refreshingly tart, featuring lime along with the lemon juice.   The manager told us the restaurant was making its own syrups now, including the one featured in that drink. 

For dessert we had a rice pudding.  It was pretty traditional, but still wonderful, and the roasted almond slices sprinkled atop provided an extra boost of wonderful flavor.

Change can be a good thing, and we were pleased by the changes at our favorite Omaha restaurant.  The food at Indian Oven is still excellent.  We'll definitely be dining there again.  When we do, we'll probably skip the meat samosas in favor of the exceptional vegetable ones, and we'll look forward to continuing to explore the new additions to the menu, in addition to trying out some old favorites again.  I'll also be experimenting with adding roast carom seeds to some of my own Indian cooking.

Indian Oven is located at 1010 Howard Street in Omaha's Old Market District.  Hours are Mon-Sat 11:30am-2pm and 5:30pm-10pm.

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