Indian food

Dal Masala with Basmati Rice and Peas and Naan.

Lancaster mayor Rick Gray loves Indian food — and Lancaster.

“We’re so fortunate to have the variety of restaurants we have here,” he says, noting all the Indian restaurants in the area: Himalayan Curry and Grill, 22 E. Orange St.; Taj Mahal, 2080 Bennett Ave.; Tulsi Indian Cuisine, 2101 Columbia Ave.; and Upohar Ethnic Cuisines (lunch), 41 W. Roseville Road.

Gray is most often found at Himalayan because, he says, “I love the food there” and it’s within walking distance from his home. Gray’s favorite meal is vindaloo, a curry dish. The hotter, the better. “It can’t be too spicy for me,” he says. “Growing up, the only spices were salt and pepper.”

But there’s more to Indian food than curries and hot, spicy food. If you’re new to Indian food, you can’t go wrong with samosas, a stuffed pastry (with sweet and tangy tamarind sauce); naan, a puffy bread; tandoori chicken; chicken korma, and maybe a mango lassi (like a mango smoothie but better).

Or go to one of the local restaurants when the buffet is available. That way you can taste a little bit of everything and discover the wonders of Indian food.

Gray says he’s a good Italian cook, but would rather leave Indian food to the professionals.

“Anyone who hasn’t tried Indian food, doesn’t know what they’re missing,” he says.

Nearby you can find Indian food in Reading and Harrisburg. County residents Deepa Balepur, Preeti Mittal and Rachna Pandey agree that Devi, 151 W. Lincoln Highway, Exton, has “the best South Indian food.” They recommend the dosas — Indian crepes — at the vegetarian restaurant.

When Mittal is hungry and can’t fit a restaurant visit into her schedule, she relies on Stauffers of Kissel Hill. “You can find a good Chicken Tikka Masala base there,” she says.

Want to make your own Indian food at home and need recipes? They recommend showmecurry.com for great recipes and tips. And not just any rice will work for your recipes. Make sure you use fragrant, flavorful Basmati rice.

For a different take on Indian food preparation, try “The Indian Slow Cooker” cookbook, by Anupy Singla.

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