Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Indian Restaurants in Howard County

Columbia offers more variety for Indian food lovers than for pretty much any other kind of cuisine.

Mango Grove and House of India are my top two, but the truth is that there are a half-dozen good options for people who like Indian food.

For the traditionalists, you can start with the northern Indian or Pakistani cuisine. These are the naan, the curries and the tandoori chicken offered by the majority of Indian restaurants. House of India in Columbia is my current favorite because it delivers both the basics and unusual dishes like whole fish and a bhel puri appetizer. But both Akbar and Bombay Peacock have their backers, including Mrs. HowChow who loves the kheer (rice pudding) at Akbar. (Update: In 2009, Royal Taj opened on McGaw Road in Columbia (briefly as "India Delight" until it chaged its name), and it serves a terrific lunch buffet -- along with a white tablecloth menu for dinner.)

For southern Indian food, you must try the vegetarian food at Mango Grove in Columbia. The broad menu has the standard vegetarian curries like baigan bartha and palak paneer. But Mango Grove offers the masala dosa of southern India, along with a dozen other of the crepe-like dosas and the rice and lentil pancakes called oothappam. This kitchen also does spectacular specials. Never pass up the jack fruit if it is on the menu. An unripened fruit cooked down to a tender texture and the spicy flavor that can only come from talented chefs.

Next door to Mango Grove is the fusion alternative -- Mirchi Wok. Chinese food has travelled to India and come out new on the other side. Mirchi Wok serves up the standard meat dishes unavailable at the vegetarian restaurant. It also serves up fusion dishes like a rice bowl cooked with chicken and spice. It was almost a jambalaya, almost a biryani. Really something different and a way to excite anyone who has been bored by too many meals of tandoori chicken.

All of these restaurants serve takeout. Except for Bombay Peacock in its commercial development, they're all the classic Howard County shopping center restaurants -- casual, friendly, but not dressy. The most-dramatic is House of India, which dresses up its space on Snowden River to the point that I was shocked to walk inside. Your guests will think they were in a city spot if you just blindfold them and drive them there in the trunk of your car.

For the post about the best restaurants in Howard County, click here.

For all posts about Indian food, click here. For Indian groceries, check out the full list of ethnic groceries or focus on Desi Market in Columbia or Apna Bazar in Laurel.

This is part of the "What I Learned" series of posts. They're organized in rings. See below to continue on the ring about different cuisines. Or click to switch to the posts about shopping in Howard County or posts about areas and ideas.

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Akbar Restaurant
9400 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: This is on Snowden River Parkway south of the Home Depot. That is between Rte 175 and Rte 32. It's on the west side, so you need to be southbound to enter the shopping center.

Bombay Peacock Grill
10005 Old Columbia Road
Columbia, MD 21046

NEAR: This is just south of Rte 32 off Eden Brook Drive. It's actually very easy to reach, although it is tucked into a commercial development without much chance to see it from the road.

House of India
9350 Snowden River Parkway
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: This is on Snowden between the Home Depot and Broken Land Parkway. It's one shopping center closer to the Home Depot than Akbar. If you are coming from Broken Land, you reach both of those centers by passing them on your left and then U-turning on Snowden.

Mango Grove & Mirchi Wok
6365B Dobbin Center
Columbia, MD 21045

Near: On Dobbins Road just south of Rte 175. It is in a outbuilding of the Wal-Mart shopping center next to the McDonalds and the Chik-Fil-a.


Anonymous said...

My husband reports that 2 friends went there for lunch the other day only to find that the restaurant has closed.

Anonymous said...

EDIT to add name of restaurant

My husband reports that 2 friends went to Bombay Peacock Grill for lunch the other day only to find that the restaurant has closed.

Anonymous said...

Has it really closed. I wanted to go there for dinner tonight. They also had an unbelievable brunch.