EDMOND — At long last, Indian cuisine is available north of Oklahoma City thanks to the opening of Heritage India, 3409 S Broadway, suite 570.
Owner William Bathini and chef Dominic Gomes are natives of India, Bathini from Hyderabad and Gomes from Kolkata in the east, who've spent most of their careers on the East Coast of the United States.
Bathini came to the United States two decades ago at age 23, moving to Washington, D.C., where his parents worked in the U.S. Embassy. With a strong passion for food in tow, he set out to go into the business. He eventually met chef Gomes, who has worked in New York City as well as the nation's capital. They two opened a restaurant in Orlando, Fla., before opening in D.C.
So what called these two to Middle America?
“My children live here,” Bathini said. “I wanted to live closer to them.”
To be closer to his kids, Bathini brought Gomes and their combined expertise in preparing Indian food. Bathini said he's got a passion not only for offering delicious food but presenting it beautifully, which the restaurant does during dinner.
At lunch, Bathini and Gomes use a buffet, confident that, within a very few bites, diners will be hooked.
Most of the city's Indian restaurants offer a lunch buffet. One of the disadvantages Indian restaurants face is the lack of exposure guests have had to the cuisine.
In popularity, Indian food is to England what Mexican food is to the Southwestern United States. Part of the allure is the bold, spicy nature of dishes. Curry is a misunderstood word. Curry is a mixture of spices centered on turmeric. In concept, it's not much different from chile powder. Curry then becomes the flavor foundation for a number of braised dishes. At Heritage India, curry sauces accompany all manner of vegetable and protein, including potato, beef, chicken, fish and even goat.
Daily, you'll find eight vegetarian dishes on the buffet. The simple mixture of peas and carrots infused with toasted chile is sublime. Aloo Gobi is a wonderful potato-cauliflower dish scented with turmeric, Paneer is a delicious cheese you'll find either melted with vegetables or squared and grilled on a skewer. Daal Makhani, a lentil-based dish, goes beautifully with fresh Naan, Indian fry bread, like flour tortillas and frijoles refritos.
The buffet also includes rotating meat-based dishes like Chicken Tikka Masala, a curry or two of the day and Tandoori Chicken, which is cooked in a built-in indoor fire pit. You'll also find a dessert such as Gulab Jamun, which is akin to doughnut holes dipped in syrup.
Dinner is when chef Gomes gets his chance to show off. The buffet is dropped in favor of an a la carte menu, which works great for small parties but can be an inspired feast for groups of four or more with like tastes or adventurous palates.
Choose from Tandoori and kebab dishes served on sizzling platters with an array of curries including a shrimp version served in a hollowed-out coconut. Naans come in nine varieties; I recommend the garlic. Any of them are crucial to the sopping necessary to leave a happy plate.
Heritage India has a selection of authentic beverages they serve alongside the necessary arsenal of iced tea and soda pop. Fresh lime soda, Madras coffee, Masala tea, Falooda and Lassi are among the authentic drinks. In this heat, there are few more refreshing drinks in the metro area than a Mango Lassi. The menu also includes exotic desserts such as Pistachio Malai and simple like ice cream.
Heritage India opens at 11:30 daily, the buffet ends at 2 p.m., dinner service ends at 9 p.m. For more information, call 286-9972.