Some Austinites are snotty about Houston. Not me, I love it. The Montrose area. The Museum District. The Chocolate Bar. Alas, none of these are trailers. Fortunately, the Desi Grill and More has got Indian dhaba food in Houston covered. And I mean “covered” in every sense of the word. After we ordered our food (more on that later) from the owner, Vinod Bhai, at the front of the truck, we trotted around back to find a huge tarp sheltering us from the misty sky. Bobbing our heads to the Tejano music blaring from the radio, we slid into an old Subway booth and listened in on the neighboring Indian family’s conversation as we waited for our meal. Then, oh yes, it arrived. The butter chicken, an old-school Punjabi dish consisting of tender white-meat chicken pieces bathed in Makhani sauce, was rich with tomatoes, coriander, and ghee. The paneer masala, with homemade paneer in a garlicky gold-colored sauce—well, let’s just say it, I’m a sucker for paneer. We ladled both of these dishes over the almost-fried basmati rice, with peas, sautéed white onion dices, tomato bits, and chives, and dipped the fluffy plain naan (skip the oily garlic version) in the whole concoction. Since I was with my gringo friends, I ordered everything “medium spicy,” expecting outrage, burned tongues, and a trip to the next-door Valero to guzzle milk, but even they commented on how mild each dish tasted. Now, I don’t like to see the people I love in pain, but I was disappointed by the lack of hot peppers. The Desi Grill uses only Halal meat, and Mr. Bhai highly recommended the beef kebob. Sadly, the six pieces of spiced ground beef with green peppers and bits of onion resembled dry meat torpedoes, a turn I didn’t foresee. Neither was I anticipating the overload of cilantro and chives in almost every dish. It gave the whole experience a Mexican bent. Or maybe it was the promotional Mexican soccer team serving bowls (in Mexican flag colors, with a big soccer ball in the center of each) that did the trick. Fine dining, no. Good curry, yes. (12672 Veterans Memorial Dr., Houston, 832-798-8196. Open 7 days 5–midnight.)
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