We tried out a different (and relatively new) Indian restaurant in the Des Moines metro yesterday and it was far better than our old place – and downright good. I’d been curious enough about Persis Biryani Indian Grill to drive out to one of my least favorite places in the area – the suburban sprawl around Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines – and I wasn’t disappointed. The food was delicious – rich creamy sauces, quality bits of meat (not the junk that’s sometimes plopped into thick sauces as if the diner wouldn’t notice its junk), large portions, pleasant service, who could ask for more? Actually, the location is less than idea – in a bland strip mall and a schlep from our house in Des Moines but that’s a minor complaint. We will definitely return. Favorite dishes: butter chicken and chicken tikka masala. To my surprise, the saag paneer – my usual favorite (creamed spinach with chunks of white cheese) wasn’t as delicious as usual and too spicy for my taste. We went with medium spiciness for all three entrees but the only one that was too spicy proved to be the saag. (Note to self: next time try navratan korma ( carrots, zucchini, green beans and more in a rich mustard-colored spicy peanut sauce, creamy but with a kick.) and buttery onion kulcha as recommended by Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu, who knows her stuff!
I meant to mention the Ecuadorian restaurant we tried out a few weeks ago (before the devastating election results…maybe I was just too depressed to write about it). Mi Patria is also in a bland strip mall – but at least it’s closer to our house – and the food reminded me a lot of the food we ate in Peru. Lots of rice and beans plus fried plantain slices, a fried egg, lettuce salad and well-flavored surprisingly tender pounded beef made up the churrasco entree. The massive entree includes a grilled skirt steak that’s topped with a fried egg, those rice and salad sides again, plus a big scoop of surprisingly complex beans and a couple crispy fried plantain slices. . My shrimp in an oily and spicy orange-colored broth (camarones al ajillo) was delicious but, dare I say it again, way too spicy for my tastes. The llapingachos, mashed potato mounds stuffed stuffed with cheese and topped with peanut sauce were as rich as they sound. And delicious. Again, I’ll be back!