05 November 2010

Venky's Spice House

Venky's Spice House is an Indian restaurant tucked in a drug store strip mall in Hilliard. Interestingly, the restaurant has a large Mediterranean market next door, making it a one-plaza stop for shoppers looking to buy pakoras and hummus.

The Spice House has tons of options for vegetarians. Some fare can be prepared vegan upon request.

There is a Southern Indian influence at Venky's Spice House. The cuisine is representative of the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh. The area traces its roots to Persia, which is the root of its Islamic heritage. It also explains the Middle Eastern market/Indian restaurant juxtaposition in this plaza.

The lunch deal is exceptional. For $5.99 (or $6.99 if you order the top-shelf options), diners get a main course, a rice dish, an appetizer, a daal, a side curry dish, a dessert and a basket of naan.

The paneer tikka masala was prepared with a slow rolling heat that subsided slowly. Despite its nomenclature issues (tikka means chicken, but the dish is poultry-free) the entree is delicious. The strips of pepper and zucchini in the dish add layers of flavor to the dish. The soft cubes of paneer cheese soak up every bit of flavor from the sauce.

The curried cabbage was a delicious side. Tiny peppers made the dish slightly spicy, but ultimately, the dish was successful because it provided great textural and flavor contrast.

The green lentils (dal or daal translates as lentil dish) were also great. The side was earthy with subtle citrus notes. It was a fantastic dip along with leftover masala gravy for the naan.

The dish was also served with a saffron rice, vegetable pakoras and a mango yogurt pudding. It is served on a modernized thali that had partitions rather than separate bowls.

While the cuisine at Venky's is rooted in Southern Indian traditions, many of the choices on the menu are also somewhat Northern Indian in their origins. This probably is related to the city that inspires the food being slightly south of the middle of the country. It also makes the restaurant a winner for fans of varied Indian cuisines. Although the place doesn't have classic Southern offerings like dosas, the Persian cuisine influences and the thali serving dish firmly place Venky's Spice House in the Southern Indian tradition.

There are a number of non-traditional dishes at Venky's Spice House. Although there are pakoras and samosas, they also make dishes like the chili baby corn, stuffed breaded chili peppers and a roasted eggplant entree. When combined with Taj Palace, I am considering Hilliard Columbus' best Indian food suburban district now that Bayleaf has closed in the Polaris area.

Venky's Spice House

Spice House on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Batarang said...

With much anticipation, I went to Venky's recently after purchasing a Restaurant.com gift certificate. Unfortunately, they are not accepting the gift certificates anymore, so I left. There are enough good Indian restaurants in the Columbus area that I don't feel the need to give a business my money when they won't honor a coupon/certificate.

I went to Dosa Corner with one of the gift certificates and the owner grumbled about it, but at least he accepted it, which means I'll be going back soon without a certificate.