Flavors of India
7185 Columbia Gateway Drive
410-290-1118 or 1599
Aida Bistro turned its location in a nearly hidden strip center into an award-winning eatery that continues to be a favorite of Howard County foodies in its new location.
Now, Flavors of India has taken that same space, and what this new restaurant offers promises to keep diners en route to this corner of Gateway.
The owners have added their own touch to the establishment and, although you can still see a hint of the old Aida, there is definitely a different look and feel — which is appropriate, given that the food is completely dissimilar, too.
The bar remains, but that area now has booths and a big screen TV. The other dining room has expanded and has many tables to handle the large crowds the new owners are getting during the week for the $11.95 lunch buffet.
Flavors of India has a very open, friendly atmosphere and is family oriented. It serves north, south, east and west Indian dishes. We would suggest you dine in, but virtually everything on the menu is available to go. And for you vegetarians, there are dozens of wonderful dishes to choose from.
For a new restaurant, the wine list has a reasonable variety of whites and reds, and all were moderately priced. The bartender helped us find exactly the right wine that made us all happy — and it was a bargain. Monday through Saturday, from 4 to 7 p.m., there are specials with $2 domestic beers, $5 rail drinks (or two for $6), a house wine special and discounted smaller portions.
The menu is quite extensive. We love Indian food and think this is, by far, the best menu we’ve seen in the area. Although the choice was hard to make, we took the easy road and ordered the Assorted Vegetable Appetizer for the table, since we got to sample four dishes.
The first was Vada, which were delicious lentil donuts with yogurt and tamarind sauce. It was the consensus at our table that these were better than Krispy Kremes; Samosa, a crust stuffed with potatoes and peas was cooked to perfection with just the right amount of crunch; Vegetable Pakoras are a wonderful blend of fresh baby spinach, sliced onions mixed with gram flour and deep fried; the last dish was Aloo Bonda, which is a dish with mashed spiced potato dumplings dipped in chick pea flour and fried. A delicious choice.
Check Your Oil
Dinner was next, and our very friendly waiter, Peter, brought us tiny samples of dishes such as Tandoori Chicken, Chickan Tikka, Lamb Sheek Kebab, Tandoori Shrimp, Baigan Bartha (eggplant), Mirchi Ka Salon (green chilies), Chicken Tikke Masala, Lamb Bhuna and Chicken Biryani.
Although three of us liked spicy foods, one did not. Taking her with us was a good test to show how much thought the owners and chef put into their selections so as to provide great tasting food for every taste. Their goal is to appeal to the clientele who dislike spicy, yet also offer heat for the brave.
Not only could our oh-so-spicy-but-don’t-feed-me-spicy friend enjoy most of these dishes, the Lamb Sheek Kebab changed her mind about not liking lamb because it was so moist and flavorful. The Tandoori Chicken also was very well prepared and palatable, but the Chicken Tikka was our favorite. And we all said the menu’s description was spot-on, stating “boneless chicken pieces marinated with spices and grilled to perfection.” We were fighting over the last piece of that yummy dish.
The chef and co-owner of this establishment, Shyam Parkash, came out to greet us and shared his cooking tip: “Use soybean oil, not peanut oil in your cooking.”
He’s passionate about his work, and his love of cooking is apparent in his delectable menu.
We also met the general manager, Ram Hanumara, who has recently moved to our area from New Jersey. He is gratified that the restaurant has been very successful in just about two months’ time. The night we were there the restaurant was more than half full — but we understand that it is completely full some nights.
The good news is that Flavors of India also takes reservations, so we would encourage you to do so since it’s a big hit. However, if you find yourself hungry for delicious Indian food and just drop in, these very hospitable folks will do everything they can to get you seated and fed sumptuously.
The hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday’s hours are from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. We can honestly say that we not only left there full (okay, overly full), we’re planning to go back and try the many other wonderful dishes they had to offer.
Welcome to Howard County, Flavors of India. We’re glad to have you here.