For fans of Indian food, Champaign-Urbana is lucky to have a quality establishment like Bombay Indian Grill in our midst. Like most Indian restaurants in the States, Bombay Indian Grill serves mostly Northern Indian cuisine. For more variety, we often have to drive to Bloomington where we can choose from a wider selection at India Bhavan. Every now and then, we even venture to Chicago’s Little India, which is almost like going to Mumbai. But regardless of where you go to get your Indian food fix, you’ll still be eating restaurant food. Now there’s nothing wrong with quality restaurant food. But once you’ve tasted homemade Indian food, you’ll never want to go back. Just like your fondest memories of what mother used to cook, homemade Indian food brings comfort to the heart, potent flavors for the palette, and amazing colors for the eye.
So if your mom’s not Indian, how does one get homemade Indian food? Well, on a recent visit to Annapoorna, our local Indian grocery store, we saw a flyer hanging on the wall for Preeti’s Kitchen. The flyer promised homemade Indian meals for take-out at a reasonable price, so I wrote down her phone number and promptly filed it away. One evening, we were thinking of going out for Indian food again and I remembered we still had Preeti’s phone number on file. Preeti also has a web site at www.preetiskitchen.com (complete with detailed menu descriptions), but we decided to call her to ask for her personal recommendations. Preeti helped us narrow down our choices to four dishes and told us our order would be ready the next day.
Since Preeti doesn’t take credit cards or checks, we had to bring cash to pay for our order. Following the instructions on her web site, we drove to her house in Savoy and picked up our order. Unlike Chinese take-out which is hot and ready to eat, we had to re-heat Preeti’s dishes, which is just as well, since the food probably would have been luke-warm by the time we got home anyway. The extra few minutes it took to warm up dinner was well worth it as the aromas of the spices filled the air. We anxiously sat down and dug in to what may be the tastiest Indian meal we’ve every had.
Our favorite dish was Preeti’s Chicken Masala, a spicy curry dish with a potent sauce. We also thoroughly enjoyed her Stuffed Capsicum (bell peppers) filled with well-seasoned potatoes and served in another very potent sauce. By far the most interesting dish was the Vetha kohzyambu, a deep red chili “soup” laced with pearl onions, garlic, and other exotic ingredients. This dish went perfectly with Preeti’s Chinese-style Fried Rice, which nicely complemented the other entrees. We were also very glad to have some Tandoori Naan from Meijer on hand, because the heat of the spices definitely took its toll. These are not dishes for the faint of heart, but we were very satisfied with our meal and there was plenty of food left over for the next day.
What made this meal memorable was not just the flavors and the aromas, but the fact we can actually taste the love and care she put into every dish. We have a feeling we’ll be calling Preeti again in the near future for more of her amazing creations.