Second Helpings

Star of India

While South and Central American restaurants like Red Tango (see review) are just starting to get serious traction here, Denver has long been blessed with many fantastic Indian restaurants -- and those Indian restaurants have been blessed with a very supportive and reasonably educated clientele. I can't even count how many good Indian joints there are in the metro area; it seems as though every new strip mall I wander into harbors at least one, doing some strange take on a traditional cuisine that's been around longer than you, me and the entire United States combined.

One of those surprising strip-mall joints is Star of India, which I visited again last week after a serious urge for saag jumped up and bit me. The dining room here is comfortable, surrounded by desert-colored walls and decorated with cultural artifacts of India, and the food comes in beautiful copper bowls. The menu is broad, covering the bases of recognizable Indian cuisine, but the kitchen is at its best on the richest of plates, those for which spicy heat represents a major flavor component. As always, the saag paneer was spicier than I expected, but deeply flavored behind the burn. The aloo saag was cooler, blonder, chased with a dim scent of onions and so soft and full of cream that it seemed to melt away (no doubt straight into my arteries) faster than I could swallow.

I washed both dishes down with a mango lassi (mango juice and yogurt, chilled), perfect for fighting the burn of even the most seriously hot dishes. And even though Denver has lots of fantastic Indian restaurants, the lassi at Star of India could be the best.

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