Restaurant Review – Indian Oven, Columbus, OH

This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of hot and spicy restaurant reviews on this site. Whenever I travel (which isn’t often) I always seek out Indian restaurants. It’s my favorite cuisine, by far… and you can almost always get it spicy!

I’m in Columbus, Ohio for a few days for a seminar at Ohio State. Thanks to Google maps, I was able to plug my hotel in and have it tell me if there were any restaurants close. Lo and behold, Indian Oven was only about 3 blocks away!!

Indian Oven Facade
Indian Oven Facade

According to its website, Indian Oven offers “both traditional Indian and Bengali dishes, as well as modern takes on cherished recipes…” Their menu was relatively extensive, although maybe not as thorough as some other Indian restaurants I’ve been to.

I was greeted and seated by the very friendly owner, and was brought fresh papadums and an amount of mint chutney within a minute of being seated. Papadums are hard to review, but needless to say, these were fresh, crispy and yummy. The mint chutney was very bright, sour, fresh, and wonderful… with a hint of heat!

After perusing the menu and hearing the specials of the day from my very friendly and informative waitress, I decided to order some pakoras for an appetizer, and the lamb masala for my main course… with a garlic naan on the side. I ordered the main dish “Very spicy” and had to convince my server that I really meant that. 🙂 I appreciate that though… lots of people don’t know how Indian dishes are spiced. Her words of caution only strengthened my resolve.


The pakoras were brought almost immediately! They were hot, crisp on the outside, and tender on the inside. Perfectly done, and wonderfully flavored! Served up with another “thimble” of the mint chutney, these little buggers were a delicious start to the meal. I ate about half of them and had the balance boxed up and have them in the hotel room for a late snack tonight!

Lamb masala
Lamb masala

Next up was the main dish! My eyes popped When she brought me the lamb masala. It was different than I had expected, being more accustomed to a “soupier” curry, but it was really beautiful! The dish had a lovely brownish/red color that was punctuated with the bright red and green of the bell peppers. I dished out about half the basmati rice and about half of the serving of the masala and dug in. The dish was rich, and complex. The garam masala flavor came through and was complimented with a sweet tomato taste… and as is true with all the best Indian meals… every bite was a little different!

The lamb itself was tender, juicy and rich. My only complaint was that some of the pieces were a little bit big for my liking. Also in the mix were the aforementioned peppers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and sliced hard-boiled eggs. Egg curry was one of my very first exposures to Indian food, so this was a very welcome flavor! The dish was spicy, but it was by no means what I’d call “very spicy.” It left my mouth with a warm tingle, but wasn’t what I was used to. Not saying that’s bad, but it was milder than I anticipated based upon the earlier warnings.

The garlic naan was nice, it wasn’t anything remarkable, and was probably wonderful for most, but it was a little puffy/chewy for my tastes. Still, it did a great job of sopping up the juices and enveloping bites. I think it was a little filling for my liking, I prefer my breads thin and almost crispy.


Finally, my wonderful and attentive server asked me if I’d like some dessert. And while I WAS stuffed, I saw my favorite, rasmalai, on the menu, so I couldn’t pass it up!! Again, it was different than I was used to, but make no mistake, it was delicious!! The balls of cheese were round and dense and tasted like an Indian sweet as opposed to a savory paneer. The thick sauce was so sweet and smooth… it was a nice sweet cool-down to a spicy meal.

Interior of Indian Oven
Interior of Indian Oven

I’ve been to lots of Indian restaurants and Columbus’ Indian Oven ranks near the top of that list. I hold Tandoor Cuisine of India in Toledo as the standard to which all others are judged, and while Indian Oven falls short, it’s not by much! Flavor and portions were great! The atmosphere, while nice enough, could have been anything. If it wasn’t for the music, I wouldn’t have known it was an Indian restaurant. And the biggest knock from me was the cost. My meal was $37… which is normally what my wife and I tally up together when we eat in Toledo.

All things considered, if you’re in Columbus and you like great Indian food and don’t mind paying for it, the Indian Oven is a wonderful choice! I’ll give it 4 out of 5 peppers!

Indian Oven
427 E. Main St.
Columbus, OH 43215

One of my favorite recipe sites.

Many people ask me, “Grant, what do you DO with all those peppers you grow?” Well, the easy answer is, “I eat them!!” I eat peppers fresh, I dry them, and I freeze them… but mostly, I cook with them!

There are some great resources out there if you want to cook with peppers, but one of my favorites is “Titli’s Busy Kitchen!” Titli Nihan is the host of a series of YouTube videos that I first stumbled upon a couple years back while looking for a Chicken Vindaloo recipe. She claims it to be the best Chicken Vindaloo recipe in the world, and I can’t argue!

What I like most about Ms. Nihan is her sense of humor. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, she makes wonderful foods, and she makes things I would love to eat! So check her out!! and follow her YouTube channel here:

My “famous” bhut jolokia videos

Well, the reason most people stumble upon this site is because of a couple of YouTube videos I’ve done in the past few years. I just checked into it and was BLOWN AWAY by the fact that the two videos below have been viewed over 300,000 times! Staggering!!

This first one was maybe the second or third bhut jolokia video on the Internet as best as I can tell, now there’s hundreds, if not thousands! Just call me a trendsetter! 😉

The second video came a year later (2008), and was a response to many of the criticisms I received from the first video. It’s now gotten over 100,000 views!

These videos aren’t only fun to watch, but they’ve really opened up the door for several meaningful contacts from people regarding swapping seeds, looking for information, neighbors, and people from around the world. I even got a call from the TV show, America’s Got Talent wanting me to come to Chicago and eat a bhut jolokia as my “talent” for a private audition and virtually guaranteed me I’d get sent to L.A. (Yeah… seriously… they wouldn’t stop calling!) I still get 5-10 emails a day from people asking about the peppers, how they can grow them, and if I still have some to share. (I DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHT NOW!!!)

I just had to give a little tip of the hat to those videos…

Some pepper germination photos – Weekly Update 2

Well, I’ve had just about 100% germination to this point. Can’t ask for any better than that! I’m really excited for the 2010 garden!

I’ve decided to take some birthday money and buy a little tiller this year. I’ve always prepped and cultivated the garden by hand in the past… and I still will this season, but I plan on doubling the size of the patch this year, and that initial work of getting the soil ready will be a lot easier with a little power assistance!

I got my grow light set up tonight and not a day too soon either. The emerging seedlings are showing their cotyledons (first false leaves) and they’re already leaning towards the window and getting spindly. Giving them the right amount and right spectrum of light will keep them stronger, healthier and “stockier.” This will lead to stronger plants when it’s time to put them out in the “real world” and should also shorten the time to the first fruit production as they’ll be better equipped to handle the transition from indoors to outdoors.

Here’s a bunch of photos from tonight!

Debunking some pepper bunk

Wow… I get hundreds of comments and emails from my YouTube videos. Some of them are great, others, not so much. I thought I’d single out a few lines from one recent email who was trying to teach me a few things and try to address the common misconceptions that are quite wrong. (the anonymous email will be in italics with my responses to follow)

…a few facts:
1- the heat comes from the seeds, not the skin of the pepper.

This is just NOT true. There is definitely heat “on” the seeds, but it’s not where the heat “comes from.” The heat you taste when you eat a pepper is actually your body’s reaction to the compound capsaicin. Capsaicin is produced in the connective tissue between the seeds and the wall of the pepper, sometimes called the ribs or the placental tissue. If you’ve ever sliced open a hot pepper, you can actually SEE it… it shows up as a golden liquid on those white, fleshy ribs. This capsaicin is found in other parts of the pepper pod too, but it’s only produced in that connective tissue. Seeds have a high concentration of capsaicin because they’re directly connected to that tissue, but it’s NOT where the heat comes from.

Continue reading “Debunking some pepper bunk”