On chilly nights, warm up to South Asian delights

Desi Bites in Urbandale serves a speedy, satisfying biryani. Photo: Desi Bites

Writer: Karla Walsh

We’ll turn back the clocks in less than two weeks, on Nov. 5 — whether we like it or not. Polling suggests that 7 in 10 Americans wish we’d ditch daylight saving time altogether, and I’m one of them.

But take heart: One way to counter the chilly darkness is with cozy bright comfort food, which is what Indian cuisine is all about. I’m a fan of local South Asian restaurants like India Star, Indian Tadka, Kathmandu, Persis Biryani Indian Grill and Spices of Nepal. But after doing some delicious research, I’ve discovered three more suburban spots that I plan to revisit and enjoy this fall and winter.

Chowrastha:
This spot opened just over a year ago and is known for its bountiful lunch buffet, which starts at 11:30 p.m. every weekday. If you’re new to the cuisine or would simply like a sampler platter, this is a terrific way to dine. Don’t miss the chili paneer and whatever tandoori-style dishes they’re serving on the day you go. Find it: 5910 Ashworth Road in West Des Moines.

Desi Bites:
One of 10 Desi Bites franchises across the Midwest and East Coast, this self-service, fast food-style buffet delivers on quality and quantity. If you’re just in the mood for a snack, try the vada pav, which are spicy potato fritters topped with mint chutney and tucked inside fluffy, toasted pav bread. If you’re feeding the family, pick up a Biryani Family Pack (available in chicken, egg, lamb, fish, mutton, paneer, shrimp and vegetable) which comes in a literal bucket, perfect for leftovers. Find it: 3828 100th St. in Urbandale, tucked inside Konark Grocers.

Zaika:
At this place that opened in May and specializes in Punjabi cuisine, you can let your nose help you decide what to order. The fragrant daal makhani (black lentil stew), pakora (fritters) and lamb curry cooking in the kitchen act like a natural compass that will point you in the right direction. Of course, you may be tempted to order one of everything on the menu, which includes plenty of meat, poultry and plant-based options. Find it: 3209 Henry St. S.W. in Bondurant.

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