There are now three Indian Restaurants in Bloomington, Bombay House, Taste of India, and Shanti. I've only tried the lunch buffet at Taste of India once so I'm not quite ready to give it a thumbs up yet. But if I had to pick a winner between Shanti and Bombay House, Shanti would come out on top. Christine would argue the opposite I think, she lurves Bombay House. At dinner time both restaurants are a bit more expensive than other ethnic restaurants in Bloomington. Entrees in the $9.99 to $14.99 range. Shanti wins at lunch though with cheap and filling lunch specials while Bombay House has a, ridiculously expensive, lunch buffet.
Shanti has a pretty huge menu, and I've only sampled a small portion of it, but the options seem like pretty standard Indian fare. My favorite entree is the Butter Chicken. It's white meat chicken in a rich and creamy tomato based sauce. The Butter Shrimp is pretty good too, but I think the sauce pairs a bit better with chicken or lamb. The owners of Shanti are pretty sneaky because they don't offer the Butter Chicken as a lunch special, so you have to order it full price from the dinner menu. And lots of people do, because it is that good!
The Chicken Curry sounds kinda boring but is, in fact, delicious with a surprisingly complex sauce. The curry is usually a combo of white and dark chicken chunks, making it extra tasty. I've also had the Chicken Korma, which is good but not exceptional. I found the korma sauce to be a little bland but the addition of golden raisins and cashews to the mix adds a nice contrast to the creamy sauce. The Chicken Vindaloo is outrageously spicy, which I guess is ideal for Vindaloo. I definitely enjoy spicy stuff but, for me, while it's definitely tasty, the Vindaloo crosses the line to painful. But my dad loves it!
While my family usually orders entrees with meat, there are tons of vegetarian options on the menu. My mom sometimes gets the Mixed Vegetable Curry which includes lima beans, broccoli, peas, carrots and probably tons of other veggies. The curry is sauce is creamy and similar to the Butter Chicken. Katy loves the Chana Masala, the chickpeas are always fantastic! The Aloo Chole, potatoes and chickpeas, is similarly yummy. In general the shrimp entrees at Shanti are also quite good, especially the Tandoori Shrimp.
For appetizers Shanti makes some pretty yummy Pakora, eggplant and potato. I prefer the eggplant. The pakora are served with two sauces, a tangy cilantro and a sweet tamarind. My family also always orders the veggie Samosa. It's packed with potato, peas, onions, and maybe some other veggies. The Samosa also come with the tamarind and cilantro dipping sauces. Shanti's Naan is mostly good, though every now and then it seems a little too yeasty or bready, just a bit off... Though Still delicious for sopping up the curries. Especially the Garlic Naan, smushed full of garlic and cilantro (:/).
At lunch time entrees are usually served with a cup of yummy lentil soup and a tiny (2 bites basically!) salad. Sometimes lentil soup and (tiny!) salad are also served with dinner, but not always. It's kind of confusing actually, so I just try to think of them as a bonus when they appear. Also, small desserts are often brought out at the end of the meal, usually a small bowl of rice pudding. The mango lassi at Shanti is really good as well, super creamy and mango-licious. It's much more yogurty than the lassi at Little Tibet, making it thicker and richer. If you're ordering the Chicken Vindaloo, the mango lassi is the perfect complement. Shanti also serves beer, Kingfisher, and maybe some wine. And unlike some of its counterparts, Shanti has a soda fountain! Free refills is always a bonus.
Shanti is located in an old Victorian building just off Kirkwood Ave. They recently added extra seating in an upper level so even at busy times the wait usually isn't too long. Unfortunately Shanti does lack an outdoor seating are, which both Bombay House and Taste of India offer. I definitely prefer to dine outside when I'm eating Indian food. Overall Shanti is a great bet for some yummy food, especially if you are looking to spend less than $10 for lunch.
221 E Kirkwood Ave # G
Bloomington, IN 47408
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