If you're looking for something exotic in a Wenatchee restaurant, look no farther than India House.
The subtitle of this new downtown Wenatchee Avenue restaurant is "Authentic Cuisine" and this is about as authentic it gets without heading to northwestern India.
Co-owner and chef Deepika Dhawan earned a degree in fashion design before going to culinary school for five years in her native India. She worked in large restaurants and five star hotels in India before marrying and moving to the U.S. She and her husband picked Wenatchee to open India House because it had a growing population and no Indian restaurant.
Her cooking reflects the varied culinary styles of Punjab, the diverse northwest region of India where food and culture has been influenced by Monguls, Portuguese, Persians and British colonization. The region is famous for its curries that can be made with blends of up to 20 different herbs and spices, as well as tandoori clay oven cooking. Don't go looking for a hamburger, but there's a wide assortment of Indian dishes with chicken, lamb and fish. There's also several vegetarian dishes. Lunch can be ordered off the menu or you can try several items from a $9.95 buffet.
Our meal began with an amazing appetizer of vegetable cripes, small chunks of carrots, corn and potato coated with spices and chick pea flour and then deep fried and served with a spicy and sweet sauce. This was like popcorn in Heaven.
The mango salad that followed was a pretty as it was tasty. The ripe mango with chunks of bell pepper, red onion and lettuce with a light mustard seed dressing offered a refreshing contrast to the other spicy dishes.Dhawan, or DD, as she's known, said our entree of Methi Chaman Biriyani was her specialty and considered a challenge dish for Indian cooks. This famous dish is made up mainly of three layers of boiled corn, fresh paneer cheese and basamati rice, but it's anything but simple, combining more than a dozen spices, peppers and herbs and then layered into a beautiful, spicy and fragrant dish.
"This dish was beautiful, infinitely complex and full of different flavors, textures and heat," wrote Annette in her review notes. "The chef really showed her technical expertise and training with this dish."Dessert was a simple rice pudding of crushed rice, sweet milk, saffron, cardamon and pistachios. Very nice, light and tasty.
If you can't get to India in the near future, head to the India House for dinner. It's the next best thing.India House, 105 S. Wenatchee Ave.; entrees priced $10 to $16; 888-5334
The Dream Meal Team has been at it again. For the second year, our group of three experienced foodies took on the enviable task of dining out once or twice a week at some of the region's finest restaurants for reviews and to pick the best appetizer, salad, entree and dessert for the Foothills magazine's annual Dream Meal. The winners — and there were many — are published in the January-February issue of Foothills, now available at many locations. Reviews of all participating restaurants will appear one each week on the Winemaker's Journal website.
The Dream Meal review team is made up of Annette Pitts, director of the Cascade Loop Association, former caterer and food blogger; Kent Getzin, Wenatchee School District director of food services and member of the National Farm to School Board of Directors; and Rick Steigmeyer, food and wine blogger and Wenatchee World staff writer. Most of the food photos were taken by Kent Getzin.
All meals were provided by the restaurants, most drinks were purchased. As current or former food service workers, we all want to see local restaurants succeed. Criticisms, if any, are all meant to be constructive.