Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Star of India, Where Sami Always Knows Your Name.

Mention Indian food in Arkansas, and chances are the name “Sami Lal” will come up. That’s because no matter how long it’s been since you darkened the door of Star of India, Sami will remember your name. Doesn’t matter if it’s been a week or a year, what you were wearing at the time, or even if you were hugely pregnant one
time and then manage to sneak a night out without the baby the next time. He will remember you.

Sami’s a memorable guy -- but so’s the food. Curries, vindaloos, biriyanis -- if it’s listed on the menu it’s
pretty much a sure bet. Of course, I could be biased (disclosure: my friends threw my baby shower at Star of India. What can I say, they know me well).

When the hubster and I go, we usually knock out an order of Kachumber Salad ($2.50) between the two of us -- tangy marinated bits of tomato,
cucumber, and green bell pepper that is the perfect hot-weather cool-off. He usually has a Taj Mahal beer (“You can take two beers home with you!” Sami will remind you) while I sink decadently into a cup of hot milky chai. We’ll share a Keema Naan ($2.95) full of lamb or an Onion Kulcha ($2.75), a flatbread filled with
ghee-sautéed onion bits. And we dig on the papadum.

We’ve become such regulars that the hubster has his own dish, Chicken Vindaloo ($12.95) served up “Paul Hot,” enough to make me cry and make him sweat. I tend to go on the milder side with a Chicken Tikka Korma
($12.95), with Tandoori roasted chicken in a smooth and creamy almond sauce. Biriyanis also speckle our order history.

Recently I gave the Vegetarian Delight ($12.95, including coffee or tea and kheer) a whirl. The Navratten Curry was
especially good, but I also rather enjoyed the Dal Makhani and the Saag Paneer. And I didn’t have to worry about ordering my kheer extra.

Star of India is open every day for lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Call ahead to (501) 227-9900 or check out their brand new website.

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