East meets L-A as India’s delicious cuisine finally comes to the Twin Cities

From the moment I stepped through the door of Mother India on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, I knew I would be having a special time. The colors, lights and elegantly set tables drew me in, and the delicious smell of Indian spices wafting into the dining room from the kitchen instantly made me hungry.

Rakesh Kumar, Ginni Singh and Uma Kant, owners of Taste of India in Bangor, opened Mother India, Lewiston-Auburn’s first Indian cuisine restaurant, in April. Their staff are knowledgeable and the menu reads well for experienced and novice diners alike.

Like other ethnic foods — Chinese, French and Italian, for example — Indian has its own tastes and a vocabulary to accompany those tastes.

For instance, naan is a delicious flat bread with a yogurt-enriched dough. Various types of naan indicate the flavorings used or what it is stuffed with. Saag, in the U.S., usually means the dish has a spinach base, although it can mean other greens as well. And masala is a mixture of flavorings, often combining a variety of spices or grinding together ingredients like ginger, garlic, onion and chile peppers. (See suggested Web links for more information.)

I have been back for lunch a number of times, most recently I ordered take-out and was impressed that nothing was lost as far as the food experience goes. I was slightly disheartened that I was not able to take in the atmosphere while I enjoyed my lunch, but there will be other times.

Shahi Korma is a plate of fresh vegetables with homemade cheese, cashews and raisins sautéed with ginger, cardamom, cloves and special Indian spices, and is delicious ($7.95). As dinner, this dish is found as Nav Rattan Korma for $10.95. I also ordered Punjabi Naan ($3.50), which is a traditional Indian leavened bread stuffed with coconut, saffron and sweet spices — absolutely sinful.

The chicken curry ($7.95 lunch) has a good blend of curry and Indian spices, and Palak Aloo (potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, light cream, cinnamon and Indian spices; $7.95) are both favorites of mine.

And if you enjoy anything mango, you’ll like both the mango milkshake (milk, mango ice cream, garnished with nutmeg and rosewater; $2.95) and mango lassi (a yogurt drink with rosewater, pistachios and mango pulp; $2.95).

Mother India’s menu is full of vegetarian offerings, though their most popular dishes are Chicken Tikki Masala (boneless chicken marinated in yogurt and charbroiled and sauteed in herbs; $11.95 for dinner) and Chicken Karahi (boneless pieces of baked chicken, green pepper and onion made in a wok-shaped pot; $11.95 for dinner).

While the menu items may not be easy to pronounce for Westerners, the waitstaff is more than happy to help patrons out. The descriptions of the entrees, breads, appetizers and desserts on the menu are easy to understand. Entree choices come in vegetarian, lamb, chicken, rice and seafood, and all meals are served with Basmati rice and chutneys. My experience is that the waiter will be glad to recommend a dish if you can’t decide on your own.

Lunch portions are perfect for midday meals, and are offered in dinner portions under slightly different names. And don’t forget to choose a little spice, a medium amount or a lot depending on your tolerance for hot and spicy foods.

What: Mother India

Where: 114 Lisbon St., Lewiston

Reach them: 333-6777 and www.MotherIndiaMaine.com

When: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Why: Easy to get to, great food and fine dining at reasonable prices.

Atmosphere: Welcoming and comfortable, the room is cozy and ornate, lit by beautiful chandeliers. Friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Prices: Lunch entrees start at $7.95 and dinner at $10.95.

For more information on Indian cuisine try these
sites:
http://www.j-tull.com/musicians/iananderson/indian.html
http://www.indianfoodforever.com/indian-spices.html
http://www.naturalnews.com/026319_spices_curry_turmeric.htm

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