When Christopher Columbus discovered America, he thought he had discovered India, leading to chicken tikka masala's short-lived career as the country's national bird. Wave your fare flag with today's Groupon: for $25, you get $50 worth of Indian fare and drinks at India House Restaurant in Hoffman Estates.
India House owner Jagmohan Jayara conceptualizes a menu of traditional Indian fare as elegant and inventive as his restaurant's luxurious interior. Perfect for stuffing bellies or last-minute holiday stockings, palak paneer ($11) presents spinach and homemade cheese curds cooked in fenugreek sauce. A kebab of chicken seekh lines up herbs, spices, and tandoor-roasted chicken ($15), and lamb vindaloo mixes its cuts of lamb with fresh-ground spices and chunks of potato. Jumbo tandoori shrimp ($21) fly from the traditional clay oven onto plates, eliminating the need to bring the food-grade football to dinner. In addition to savory eats, the kitchen also dispenses a cornucopia of sweet treats, including rich kulfi ice cream ($3), milk-and-flour-infused gulab jamun and traditional kheer pudding.
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The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from many places: the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi, Indian street fare, and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries and kebabs that use the flavors of fresh cilantro, chilies, and coconut. A reviewer for the Chicago Tribune praises the restaurant’s “incredibly tender tandoori chicken,” and Chicago magazine says the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi … is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options make it difficult to decide which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.