Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Paradise of India caters to college students

Jeff Mitchell/Collegian

Soft music is present in the background of the restaurant and the tables are made of bona fide traditional cloth. The dim lighting compliments the relaxed atmosphere.

Paradise of India, located in downtown Amherst, offers a delicious variety of Indian cuisine to local residents for under $25.

The restaurant has been in business since 1993 and was later adopted as a family-run business. Manager Tony Singh runs the restaurant with his brother-in-law who works as a host and waiter.

The restaurant décor feels authentic, as genuine Indian artwork adorns the wall. The paintings depict aspects of Indian life such as milk-making, dancing and cloth-making.

It is a common conception that Indian food is very spicy, but Singh explains that is not the case at Paradise of India. Each dish is prepared individually, so customers can order their food anywhere from mild to extra hot.

“New people think that Indian food will be too spicy, but spice is just flavor. Spicy can mean heat and flavor. We also can adjust the heat of the spices from very hot to mild,” said Singh.

When trying to describe the reason why Indian food is so appealing to American children, Singh said “a lot of kids grow up with bland food. They come to Paradise of India and try new, flavorful food.”

The clientele ranges from 5-year-olds to much older patrons. Faculty from Springfield and Sunderland bring in their classes a couple of times per year to eat at Paradise of India for a different cultural flavor. Singh explains that his business is great because young people continue to become more intrigued by Indian food and will repeatedly bring back their families to expose them to new ethnic foods.

Paradise of India offers both meat and vegetarian menu options for customers. One of their most popular vegetarian dishes is the Saag Paneer, which consists of chunks of homemade cheese, creamed spinach and fresh spices. For the carnivorous customers, Paradise of India offers Chicken Shahi Korma, containing chicken cooked in a variety of nuts in a creamy, mild sauce.

Singh explains that the usual customers often order two to three dishes to split between them.  In doing this, customers can “see which one [they] most like. A lot of groups come for meetings,” said Singh.

With an idea to attract new students, Singh has created a promotion in which students from any college can receive a 10 percent discount when they visit Paradise of India. This discount was created with the intention to attract new students from other colleges, since it seems University of Massachusetts and Amherst College students are already loyal customers.

Samosas are similar to an appetizer. In 10 speedy minutes they are brought out with three different types of dipping sauce, varying in flavors from spicy to mild. The crispy shell hides a ball of potato which acts a sponge to soak up this sauce. Three different types of entrees are served next and are accompanied by naan bread on the side to scoop up the saucy flavor.

The meals are presented in oval metal containers that contain the saucy medley of spice, vegetables and meat. The thin naan bread acts as a warm plate to shovel the blend of meat, rice, peppers and sauce into eager mouths.

The scrumptious trifecta of Indian food is made with a thick layer of lamb and rice sitting atop a crisp piece of naan bread. Each ingredient fights for the customer’s attention.

The finale to this meal is a desert called Gulab Jamun, which is a cinnamon-flavored pastry served in honey and rose water. A similar comparison could be a fried dough flavored munchkin. While this sounds like a light desert, it can be quite filling but it is worth trying.

This local Indian food restaurant knows that its future is in its students and is trying to branch out to accommodate them. To those not familiar with Paradise of India, it is worth giving it a try if you are a fan or spice or just new flavorful food. And if that isn’t enough to bribe you, maybe the 10 percent discount will.

Jeff Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].

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