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India House

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With its less than fashionable Westwood Avenue location and its humble appearance, is so inconspicuous and unassuming that even those who ought to know better might be tempted to prejudge its fare. But to do so would be a mistake, for, as I found out, its serves good food at a great value. Indian cuisine excels in the appetizer department, especially in the finger-food genre, and the appetizers at India House are not to be passed over. The vegetable samosas ($2.50), savory pastries stuffed with potatoes and peas and pleasantly spiced with whole cumin seeds, arrive crisp and warm with a tart dipping sauce. Another fine choice, the aloo papdi ($3.95), is a curious melange of crispy pappad pieces and cilantro leaves that garnish a dish of soft cubed potatoes in a spiced yogurt sauce with tamarind and mint chutney. To visit India House without sampling its specialty breads would be a grave mistake. Try the paratha ($2.95), a whole-wheat flat bread offered plain, or stuffed with potatoes, spiced radish, lamb or chicken. The naan ($1.50) is a pleasant unleavened white-flour flat bread with a mild flavor that is welcome amidst the plethora of spicy concoctions on this menu. If at any point during your meal you should suffer an intense burning sensation raging out of control in your mouth, India House has just the antidote. Lassi (mango or regular flavor $1.75) is a sweet and soothing yogurt drink that provides enough relief to get you back on your feet, and it tastes great to boot. Entrees arrive in individual copper dishes accompanied by a faintly hued saffron rice pilaf. We sampled the rogan josh ($10.95), an intense lamb curry topped with almonds. Large cubes of tender lamb are stewed in a thick, dark and pungent sauce with garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, coriander and countless other spices that I couldn't hope to inventory. Mattar paneer ($8.25) features cubes of Indian homemade cheese with green peas in a lighter curry sauce. We ordered the lamb medium spicy and the matter paneer mild. I found the medium to be a just shy of the point where the intensity of the heat steals the whole show, and I'd order it that way again. India House's fare is on par with the best Indian food I've had in the area, and it's offered at an incredible value.

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