My favorite thing about Indian food is the different spices used in each dish that makes them taste so different than American cuisine.
Cardamom, clove, cumin and mustard seed are just a few of the common spices used in Indian food and are what make me always look forward to my next fix. I was excited to try Surya India specifically because I’d heard how flavorful its sauces are.
Once I tried them, I came away with the same impression, for the most part.
The Vegetable Samosas, crisp Indian-style empanadas stuffed with spiced potato, peas and herbs, came with two different sauces for dipping. The first was a dark honey color that was sweet and the second was a light green that reminded me of the green sauce at Tex-Mex restaurants.
When I broke open one of the samosas, the inside was a golden yellow with a consistency much like hushpuppies. The thin, crispy outer layer added a nice texture balance with the mushier inside. The spice was light and the flavor was mostly herby. I liked the sweeter sauce with it best.
Off the lunch menu, the Chicken Mangalorean, which has a coconut base with mustard seeds, curry leaves and chilies, was a favorite dish of mine. The creamy orange curry smothered chunks of chicken. The spice level was mild, but I enjoyed the flavor profile of chili, cumin and more.
The other lunch entrée I tried was the Channa Saag, which is spiced chickpeas with spinach. The Mangalorean was a little sweet, the Channa Saag was more savory with hints of ginger and garlic. I liked the chickpeas, but could barely find them through the curry. I wished there was a better balance between the two.
The long flat pieces of naan were also one of my favorite features with the dishes. Still warm from the oven, I ate most of the naan on my own.
The rice that came on the side of both portions was basic, which was nice since there was so much already going on in terms of flavor with the entrees.
Surya is branded as upscale Indian, and while dining out didn’t give me the full experience, I thought the food was good, but a little pricy for what you get. There are more expensive dishes on the dinner menu, but the chicken dish cost the same from lunch to dinner.
For dining in, Surya has some policies you should know about before stopping by. The restaurant doesn’t allow children under the age of 8. Surya also has a philosophy that its food is cooked to its merit, so it won’t modify in terms of spice levels.
Address: 700 Durham Dr.
Hours: 5-8 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Pricing: $15-$22 for lunch, $15-$36 for dinner
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Chicken Mangalorean