Indian food often gets a bum rap from many people as a cuisine that is too spicy and intense for their liking, even though they probably have never even sampled it. Fortunately, Passage to India offers a way for diners to experience the variety and deliciousness of Indian food.
Tucked into a strip mall on the northwest corner of 21st and Woodlawn, Passage to India is one of the few places in town where you can get full immersion into the culture and food of India. While Passage to India has been in operation since 1994, it has been in its current location only since late last year. The menu is expansive and can be somewhat overwhelming, especially for those unfamiliar with the cuisine. But the lunchtime buffet ($10) is a good way to sample many different dishes in one sitting.
On our visit, the buffet was fully stocked with about 10 different dishes, plus several sauces and condiments, as well as the famous naan bread.
Most dishes were curries or rich stews containing beef, chicken or vegetables. Also available: tandoori chicken, fried chickpea balls and fried potatoes. The name of each dish and a brief description was posted on the buffet to assist in the selection process.
Among our favorite dishes were the malai methi chicken, garam masala chicken, chickpea curry, naan bread and potato pakora. The malai methi chicken was a mild-tasting dish but still had good flavor. Although the cubed chicken breast in the garam masala tasted a bit dry, the spicy curry sauce made up for it.
The potato pakora were essentially Indian French fries that had been dredged in chickpea flour before frying. The naan flatbread was the perfect way to soak any additional curry sauce left on our plates. To ease some the spice from the curries, I recommend the cucumber and yogurt dipping sauce that is available.
Some buffets suffer from food that has been sitting out for too long, but we found that everything looked and tasted fresh on our visit. The buffet also was vegetarian-friendly, with several different dishes to choose from.
The service and atmosphere at Passage to India were very welcoming. Our server did an excellent job of keeping our water glasses full and the television, tuned to an Indian channel, provided us with modest amounts of entertainment.