Little India

Contra the ersatz Mark Twain quote, Little India is a good walk rewarded.

Austin is superior to Saratoga Springs in many, ok most ways, but one area in which SS has it all over the hot little scrub-brush town on the Colorado is in its physical beauty.  The town, not the people.  Saratoga Springs is just pretty.  So I parked my car in my usual secret spot, and walked eastward along the edge of the beautiful Congress Park, and kept going.  I walked through blocks of beautiful brick Victorian mansions and grand old churches (most having been repurposed into commercial space) and enjoying the wonderful sixty-seven degree weather (another way in which Saratoga is vastly superior to Austin.)  And there on the corner of Spring and Court streets, next to a red and black Victorian housing a deli/pizzeria on the first floor, was Little India.

I absolutely love Indian/Pakistani food.  Unfortunately, I lack the knowledge and vocabulary to intelligently critique it beyond “I like this, and these are my reasons why.”  I’m relatively new to the cuisine, having not tried it until 1998 or 1999, but I immediately fell in love with it.  I had no idea what it was, it could have been food from Mars it was so alien.  But it was delicious.  And so flipping hot I got high from eating it.  Actually, I assume it was from chili overload.  Maybe there were some sort of euphoric herbs in that particular kitchen?  I always was unreasonably happy after eating at that particular restaurant…  In any case, decent Indian food is great, and poor Indian food should be prosecutable as a crime against gastronomy.  Little India is good.

I’ve only been there once, but all the food was enjoyable.  I started with the mixed non-vegetarian appetizers (a samosa, chicken tikka, another boneless chicken kebab, and a ground chicken kebab), then had channa masala, a plain naan, and Kashmiri pulao (cashews and sultanas).  This is of course too much food for one person to eat at one sitting, so I took quite a bit back home.  In my limited experience, none of these dishes are spicy, so I can’t comment on how much they toned things down on account of my skin color, but I will definitely be looking for that if I find dal basanti on the menu.  I was suitably impressed with the spice level here compared to other restaurants in town (seriously, how do you manage to make non-spicy Korean food.  I know this isn’t Texas, but geez.) so I’m looking forward to trying the spicier options next time.  Naan is, as always, a glorious thing, and I’m curious to try their various stuffed versions as perhaps a call-ahead “fast food” option.  And of course, having Little India here means I always have a place to go for delicious vegetarian food if my hippie friends will deign to visit me.  My only quibble is probably something I should keep my mouth shut about.  I do enjoy raita and think it makes an excellent condiment.  They brought some with my main course, but not with the appetizer tray.  Then again, they didn’t have it listed as included with the meal, and in fact have it as a separately charged item on the menu.  So I guess I really shouldn’t complain about the timing of a gift.

So there I am, sufficiently full after the meal, carrying a box of aromatic rice and curry, walking back through the beautiful neighborhood, in the early evening.  It was downhill all the way back.