If you ask people their favorite Indian food dish, you’ll probably get pretty varied response. If you would have asked me before I went paleo, I would have said without a doubt: naan. That delicious, fluffy, flat bread all Indian restaurants serve you gratis with every meal. Now I just say no to nann, and it’s not has hard as I thought it might be. There is so much great food to be had and all of it bursting with flavor.
One of my favorite Indian Food restaurants in Houston is Khyber Grill. There are tons of other great ones in Southwest Houston, but this is my go-to Indian restaurant inside the loop. When my wife was pregnant with our son, she craved Khyber Grill. The owner, Mickey Kapoor, even joked with us, “This is and Indian food restaurant, not Chinese… we don’t deliver.” Luckily he didn’t have to deliver our son in the restaurant, but he did deliver some great Indian food. The owner’s sense of humor is also evident on his sign facing Richmond ave. He is next door to Pappadeaux, and he always has a clever retort to the message on Pappadeaux’s marquee. My favorite was when Pappadeaux’s marquee read “Hiring today 3 to 5,” Kapoor replied, “My, You Do Start Them Young!” Kapoor has a great sense of humor, but he is serious about his Northern Indian dishes.
Buffet is the way.
Since switching to a paleo diet I prefer eating buffet as opposed to individual dishes. I’ve found that in addition to the buffet giving you more variety, it also gives you more control. There is a lot of filler in Indian food. Rice is a staple, and rice is something you have to eat in moderation on a paleo diet. It is pretty much a pure carbohydrate and not very nutrient dense, so I tend to avoid it. In most indian food restaurants your rice to meat and vegetable ratio wont be in your favor if you are trying to stay paleo, and I tend leave hungry. At a buffet however, you can pick around what you don’t want to eat. It’s perfect for a control freak like me. One good example of where you can pick around is Al0o Gobi. This is a dish featuring curried potatoes, cauliflower and peas. It is delicious, but I try to stay away from potatoes and peas, so I just scoop the cauliflower out and leave the potatoes for the non-paleo folks.
Indians know their vegetables.
Vegetables prepared Indian style are my favorite. The intense Indian spices can bring even the most boring vegetables to life. Take vegetable jalfrezi for instance. The core ingredients are cauliflower and carrots—pretty boring right? Well not Indian style. Stir-fry them in curry, ginger, onion, and spices, and you get a nutrient-rich and flavor-rich dish. The dish started as a creative way to prepare left-overs, but now it is a staple on most Indian food buffets. I always heap a big spoon full on my plate, and usually go back for seconds.
Now my favorite Indian dish is saag paneer. It is essentially spinach and Indian cheese cooked in a yogurt sauce. Most people on a paleo diet tend to stay away from dairy, but I am on the paleo diet because I am trying to control my blood sugar, and dairy does not effect me negatively. Khyber has the best saag paneer in town in my opinion. It is flavorful, but it is not as intense as some of the other dishes. Paneer has a dense consistency, somewhere between cheddar and a softer type of cheese like brie. Sometimes I eat a whole plate of saag paneer by itself.
Another vegetable to be on the lookout for is okra. I love okra, but here in Texas usually the only time you see it on menus is battered and deep fried. If you have only had boiled okra, you probably think of it as slimy and flavorless, but it’s not prepared that way at Indian food restaurants. According to Dr.Axe.com, okra is packed with valuable nutrients. It’s a high-fiber food, for starters: Nearly half of its nutrition is a soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. Nearly 10 percent of the recommended levels of vitamin B6 and folic acid are also present in a half cup of cooked okra. There are numerous okra-based dishes, and they aren’t always on the buffet, but every time I see one of them I load up. Bhindi Masala is my favorite North Indian okra dish. Don’t pass it up if you see it on the menu.
What about the meat?
Have no fear my fellow meat-loving cavemen and cave ladies, there is still plenty for carnivores to eat on Khyber Grill’s buffet. The most popular Indian dish has to be the chicken tikka masala. This is the dish that has become the most popular dish in England, and for good reason, it is great. It’s a mandatory dish on Indian food buffets, and Khyber does a nice job with theirs. The Big chunks of white-meat chicken inside the tangy orange sauce make a fantastic meal. It’s not as spicy as other curry dishes, but it still really good.
The only problem with eating chicken tikka masala paleo style is that it gets a bit runny. Normally it is meant to be eaten over a bed of rice, and the rice soaks up the delicious orange sauce. If you are avoiding the rice, it’s a bit more like a soup, but it still tastes great.
Seekh kabab is another meat dish to be on the lookout for. It is made from ground lamb, and various spices, and Khyber’s is fantastic. Another staple is tandoori chicken. This dish is rubbed with spices and cooked in a clay oven. Khyber’s is always tender and juicy. It tastes great paired with saag paneer.
Service with a smile.
The service at Khyber Grill is way better than most Indian restaurants. Most of the waitstaff has been at the restaurant as long as I have been eating there, and I have been eating there for over twenty years. In addition to having a great sense of humor, Mr. Kapoor must be a pretty good boss to retain his staff for this many years.
You can’t go wrong at Khyber Grill if you are looking for great Northern Indian cuisine, and it is fairly easy to stay paleo there as long as you can avoid the naan and rice pudding.