Comforts of Home — Cuisine of India

March 2012 View more

Photos by Greg Shapps

In any move from one town to another, there are always adjustments to be made—new work commutes, new shopping destinations, new daily rhythms. But in the five full years since my family migrated from Chicago to Naperville, the most lingering challenge in terms of making ourselves completely at home in the western suburbs has continued to be the quest to finalize our roster of go-to local places for every potential ethnic cuisine—those places that are so top-of-mind that as soon as the taste arises, the decision is all but made.

NMA0312_TableForTwo_2It sounds crazy, I know. Surely nailing down this type of list should have been among our first priorities after paying the movers and calling the gas company. But in fairness, we’ve put a lot of effort into solidifying many good spots, with only a handful remaining vacant lo these many years, including a slam-dunk Indian joint.

The abundance of Indian options in Naperville and surrounding communities should have made this one of the easier categories to check off of our list, of course. But the reality is that we tend to be generally cautious and unadventurous Indian eaters, and our go-to place in the city had indeed become very comfortable—maybe not like Cheers, where everybody knew my name, but at least a place where having told them on my first visit to spice my entrée as if they were preparing it for a five-year-old, I could rest easy knowing I would neither have to make that sheepish request nor torch my mouth ever again as long as we remained regular and loyal patrons.

A Contender

NMA0312_TableForTwo_3Alas, our long Indian quest may have finally come to a happy end thanks to the relatively recent arrival of Cuisine of India. Tucked away in one of the many anonymous shopping plazas along the busy Ogden corridor in the imposing shadow of a big-box store, this Naperville newcomer nevertheless somehow manages to carve out a bit of intimacy and identity.

Our visit just so happened to fall on one of the few truly frigid days of an otherwise unseasonably mild winter stretch. But the biting winds sweeping across the massive asphalt plain only served to make the room seem that much warmer, the greeting that much friendlier, and the roaring fireplace that much cozier. With a cricket match flickering on the flat screen above the deserted bar area and Bollywood-style pop hits emanating from the sound system, our server Rahul walked us through the imposing menu.

NMA0312_TableForTwo_4The (Relative) Heat Is On

In what was to be yet another night of conservative Indian dining we stuck with mostly standards on this evening, getting things started promisingly with four plump samosas stuffed to capacity with potato and spices. Bypassing the wide and tempting array of tandoori grilled specialties (lamb, shrimp, salmon, etc.), we instead opted for two entrees—chicken and paneer (cheese cubes)—prepared in a rich saag gravy, with a request for only mild to moderate spice.

With a heaping plate of basmati rice on one side of the table and a basket of steaming hot parantha bread on the other, we mixed and sopped and paused occasionally to let our mouths cool, all the while feeling about as close as could be to our comfortable old standby in the city.

When Rahul later inquired about dessert, the combined bulk of the bread and rice had unfortunately more than caught up with us, forcing a polite refusal. The good news, however, was that we knew we’d have a chance to try it on one of our likely return visits to come.

 Cuisine of India
1255 East Ogden Avenue, Naperville