Big Al's Bites: Sitara India

I grew up with a family who was pretty selective about what they ate. Half were vegetarians; the other half had odd tastes, ranging from meat and cheese exclusively to taking a sandwich apart and eating the ingredients separately. Suffice it to say I understand strong preferences.

That being said, I don’t understand ruling out entire genres of food. Surely an entire country of tastes, people and cuisine can offer something to the carnivore and vegetarian alike.

One of the ethnic cuisines that takes the sharpest blow in Utah is Indian food. All deeper social implications aside, the cuisine scares people. Indian food is a novelty for many Utahns. It is as far away across the gastronomic spectrum as you can get from funeral potatoes, and that makes many of our white-bread neighbors more than a little apprehensive about the foreign flavors and combinations that define Indian cuisine.

To add further complications, many restaurants boasting authentic and frightening food also come with a frightening check, piling on yet another obstacle to branching out and trying something new.

That’s why local ethnic restaurants like Sitara India are becoming the Robin Hood of the exotic food community. Sitara India is conveniently located across the street from Weber State, providing the perfect midday getaway at a fraction of the price of fancier cuisine, while offering a tasteful alternative to its neighbor, Little Caesar’s.

One Indian dish that is impossible to hate (unless you have Crohn’s disease, in which case, stay away from this one) is the garlic naan. It’s essentially garlic flatbread slathered in butter. I can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t like that. They also have a few other takes on the delicious flatbread, ranging from covering it in cheese to filling it with coconut, raisins and sugar. Difficult not to like. More difficult not to eat the whole basket.

While India is famous for its curries, my favorite dish is biryani, a rice dish mixed with anything you can get your hands on. Sitara’s lamb biryani is quite tasty, paired with chopped onions and tomatoes. The tandoori chicken is also delectable. The chicken is cooked in a tandoor (clay) oven that reaches over 900 degrees Fahrenheit, locking in both moisture and incredible flavor.

For those of us who have a sweet tooth (no judgment here), you have a wonderful drink called a lassi, a yogurt and fruit drink. The star of the lassi menu is the mango, which features cream and mango pulp blended to perfection in a frosty yogurt.

Needless to say, Sitara has some tasty options, regardless of your palate. If I could convince them to set foot inside the door, I think everyone in my family might find something they would like.

If you are one of the scared Utahns who can’t muster up the courage to venture out of the happy valley menu, I challenge you to do so. Sitara India may be the avenue for you to branch out. Get the naan and the lassi. It’s invincible to the pickiest of eaters.

If you’re looking to try a plethora of options, they offer a buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the modest price of $7.99. Well worth the price, and it may be one of the cheapest culinary adventures you’ll ever have.

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