India House, Northampton, MA

I love Indian food, but have found a disturbing lack of it in Western Massachusetts. Of course, my gold standard has always been Darbar India in Branford or, in a pinch, Thali in New Haven, but was just unimpressed by the sparsity of Indian cuisine around here. It was a little saddening, as it’s one of my chief comfort foods. Long-time readers will know that I halfheartedly reviewed India Palace last year, so when Keepitcoming proposed checking out India House for dinner tonight, I was all too excited to have a chance at Indian cuisine once more.

This was an interesting restaurant. I thought the menu really combined things that were traditional with innovative creations, like pomegranate glazed kebabs for appetizers, or lobster tikka masala as an entree. Diners ought to be warned that the menu is extremely adjective heavy, with bewitching bomb-dropping and spewed bullets of seduction all over the place, but when stripped of extraneous speech, is easy to read and devoid of misspellings.

In an uncharacteristic move, I opted to pass up the stranger of the options and went straight for chicken tikka masala. I mean, come on, it’s 39 degrees on a good day around here and only the hottest, creamiest, sauciest foods will do. So tikka masala it was, and for Keepitcoming Love, baigan bharta. We shared a chana samosa for an appetizer.The chana samosa wasn’t complex, but it combined a good percentage of the textures and flavors we typically frequent- mushy, fried, saucy, tender food. It was basically a deconstructed samosa slathered in condiments, so how could we not love it? It was everything we expected it to be, with crunchy dough pieces, curried potatoes, creamy chickpeas, and SO MANY CONDIMENTS. Just covered in sauce. And the radish on top was a pleasant garnish. Something so simple was easily one of the tastiest dishes I’ve had at an Indian restaurant.After that pleasant snack, our entrees arrived. The portions were quite large and predicted tons of yummy leftovers in our future. The chicken tikka masala was a light salmon color and was full of vibrant flavors- red peppers, curry spices, chili peppers, chicken, and such. Poured on top of rice or spread on naan bread, it was heaven in a dish. Much spicier than I expected it to be, which was a huge plus.The baigan bharta was really soft and mushy, with a rounded curry flavor and a decent heat, but nothing overwhelming. The texture was perfect, with a fantastic selection of spices. This made it both hot and seasoned instead of an onslaught of fire on the tongue. Coupled with the naan, it was absolutely delicious. The genius who invents naanwiches will have my own personal seal of approval.God, what a great dinner this was. I don’t often come to a place and plot out my next order that very night, but in this case, it was irresistible. I can’t wait to come back here and try something new!(Note: I have made a slight change to my system of restaurant reviews. I will be rating as a whole instead of evaluating individual items as of tonight’s review and all that follow it.)

Gedilla Hanukkah Surprise

Happy Hanukkah, Jews and Jewdettes! Foodettes? Yes! It’s the second night and I’m listening to Hadestown and eating a little sea bass. Mazel tov!

In real life, I’m actually Jewish, so all the offensive pigeonholing I do now is completely permissible by today’s standards. (I really am. It’s on my trading card!) And tonight I’m reviewing a surprise that came with a gift from my father, the Gedilla Hanukkah Surprise dreidel.

I don’t know exactly what type of kid receives this as a gift, unless you’re counting me. Judaism lacks the overbearing sense of Catholic guilt that comes with Santa Claus and coal and shit, but this would definitely fall along the lines of a coal-related punishment for not filing your tax returns or telling Cousin Moshe to lay off the gefilte fish or something.The kit is aptly shaped like a dreidel, but does not spin. This is a weakness. It is pretty hefty and contains a few snacks for enjoyment, including Gedilla’s own Cheeto knock off, a lollipop, hard “Flash” candies, and large Smarties.

We’ll start with the least offensive, the Flash candies. These do not flash in your mouth but instead, have another special superpower. They take the form of waxy Mentos, with a slightly minty flavor and little resemblance to the fruit they are supposed to be, about as much relation as Woody Allen and his step-daughter wife have. So it’s kosher! Fuck yeah!

Getting worse, we have a lollipop that resembles the kind one would normally receive as a child at a bank. Jesus, really? Stop it, Gedilla, you’re just embarrassing yourself. I mean, at least go as far to pick on something the world doesn’t already know about. Shove a bagel in there. Or call us lousy lovers. But come on, a bank lollipop? At least we know that it can’t get any worse than-WHAT.

Sure, the lollipop tasted like the unloved stepchild of Pine-Sol and made my lips feel sticky and dirty inside, but god damn it, candy money just brings home the bac- er, breaks the ban- er, takes the cake. It takes the cake and sells it for a 500% markup. Shucks, that just ain’t right. The candy money…eh, it’s not so great either. Fun fact, in a recent study by the FDA, this was actually the placebo to Tums, except with no health benefits and less flavor. I didn’t like these. They melted too quickly and left an aftertaste of frugality.The last food (food?) in this grouping was the corn sticks. I was really excited for these because I love snacks and I love corn-based things, but when I saw the little, petulant bespectacled corn stick on the package, I fell even more in love. It’s a little nod at all the nerdy kids in school! Screw you, dad, I didn’t want to be a doctor any way! I just wanted to go into poetry and maize-inspired literature. But these are, like the rest of the Bad News Bears, pretty crappy. These are the Cheetos for the mildly deficient. If you cut yourself on their broken glass like texture, they’d give you these, the equivalent of Will Ferrell’s wooden gun.

The flavor is barbecue, and the package warns me that they are “spicy hot.” Nothing I love more than a challenge, so into my mouth they went. They’d be better suited as packing peanuts, I’m afraid. But that little character makes the package. And now I shall bequeath the Hanukkah miracle to my roommates. I can stand this no longer. Thanks anyway, dad!