By Blair Boehm
The city of Ames is nestled almost directly in the center of Iowa and boasts a world-class university, an impressive international population and one of the best places to try Indian cuisine West of Calcutta! This starry critique must be premised, of course, by the fact that the reviewer was born and raised in Iowa and has yet to travel anywhere near India. That being said, my experience at Indian Delights has only increased my desire, and my appetite, for cuisine spiced the Indian way.
Spiced is the best word to describe Indian food, though it is important to divorce “spiced” from “spicy” (hot). In fact, some of the best dishes served at the establishment are not spicy at all, but pack a flavor that will give your tongue a workout. You can, of course, order many spicy dishes at Indian Delights from the Chicken Curry to the Chicken Tikka Masala, but it is truly the way that the spices are used that makes the dish unique. From their use of ginger to masala to my favorite curry, the blends are appealing, flavorful and distinctly foreign.
The entrees are generally served separately from some form of carbohydrate in a distinctly traditional fashion. Almost everything at Indian Delights can, or is, served with either naan which is bread similar to pita but amazing light or basmati rice. These go amazingly well with everything on the menu or simply by themselves, but serve the necessary purpose of adding a comparatively “bland” contrast to the spices used in the entrée itself.
Every good meal must include a well-paired beverage. To accomplish this, the restaurant serves a variety of wines that are very reasonably priced by the bottle. I enjoyed pairing a white wine with the spicier (hot) dishes and a red wine with the milder dishes. This may be the incorrect technical pairing, but sitting outside under the sun with spicy curry and a cool white wine treated me very well.
Sitting is an important action to remember when enjoying a restaurant like Indian Delights as the owner Dipak Biswas seems to be a one man show in the kitchen. This may lead to slightly longer wait time than some are accustomed to, but is offset by the visible care put into the dish. Mr. Biswas is aided by wait staff preferably pulled from the university to fulfill his desire to help students pursuing their education make the rent. This being said, Biswas will often make the rounds to check on quality, ambiance and general well being of his clientele. This individual attention to both the environment and the dish itself all adds to the taste of the food which begs one to slow down, savor and enjoy.
After working in the food industry myself for several years I found that many who frequent restaurants do so simply to satisfy their hunger, get in and get out. Indian Delights entices you to stay and enjoy the food with a nice bottle of wine in good company. It provides all of this while not breaking the bank of its clientele through very fair prices both for the food and the wine.
I would, and do, encourage anyone to stop by Indian Delights in Ames, but for those in the Des Moines area a quick stop by the Des Moines farmers market could do the trick. Indian Delights has participated in both the farmers market and World Food Festival in the East Village for those interested.
Blair Boehm is a recent graduate of Iowa State University where he received a Masters degree in Public Administration and a bachelors degree in Political Science. He was born and raised in Ankeny, Iowa and has worked as (among other things) a bartender, legal intern and research/teaching assistant for Dr. Politics.