Manna Cuisine of India offers a taste of Northern India 

click to enlarge Samosas at Manna Indian Cuisine in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 16, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Samosas at Manna Indian Cuisine in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 16, 2015.

When Taj on Northwest Expressway closed in 2009, I was lost, adrift, cut off from that long buffet covered in all my Indian favorites. So long, veggie korma. Goodbye, dear sweet pakora. The eatery moved to NW 23rd Street in 2011.

I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. It has taken too long, but great Indian food has returned to that part of the metro. The problem: You don’t know about it yet.

The dining room at Manna Cuisine of India, 7908 N. MacArthur Blvd., is worryingly underused, especially because the food coming out of the kitchen is wonderful, true Northern Indian fare.

My trips to Manna yielded plenty of excellent dishes. I highly recommend you start with the samosas (two big ones for $3). These pyramids might be vegetarian, but they’re too good to be healthy. Deep-fried and crispy with seasoned potatoes and peas inside, these are the ultimate Indian comfort food.

I was less enchanted with the hot wings ($6.99), but only because the skin wasn’t quite crisp enough for my liking. The sauce was good — not your usual Buffalo — but the texture wasn’t what I hoped it might be.

But I forgot all about the chicken wings when the lamb biryani ($11.99) arrived. It comes with yogurt on the side because you’ll need it to tame this fiery fried rice dish. The lamb had a firm texture and soaked up the spice blend. The rice was crisp and addictive. I asked for medium heat and started sweating right away. But no matter how many signals my mouth sent my brain to stop, my tongue kept countermanding them.

Here’s one of the memos:


RE: Biryani issue:

Mouth can shut up (LOL!); this rice stuff is too good. Just keep eating and you can get us all ice cream later.

Sincerely,

Tongue


I want to go back and have a biryani feast. Manna does shrimp, goat, chicken and vegetable biryanis, and I bet they’re just as good/painful as the lamb.

For non-masochists, I recommend butter chicken ($11.99), which takes tandoor oven-cooked breast chunks and simmers them in a rich, creamy cashew sauce. It’s like chicken tikka masala (also on the menu), but I like butter chicken even more.

Need to sop up some sauce? Sure you do! That’s as good a reason as any to order garlic naan ($2). But beware: This bread is so delightful, you’ll be ordering a second and third before you know it.

Dal fry ($9.99) isn’t on the menu but was recommended to me when I tried to order dal makhani. It is tender lentils in a spicy sauce served over a bed of perfectly cooked rice. Again, I recommend ordering mild heat because the medium spice knocked me down and took my lunch money, which is fine; I was just going to spend it on more dal fry anyway.

For those who like their bird on the bone, the chicken tandoori ($10.29) is the right choice. Nearly dyed red with the marinating spice, it’s cooked over a fire and has lots of crispy bits to prove it. It’s best with a bit of grilled lemon squeezed over the top, in my opinion.

The decor inside Manna is nothing to write home about. Is there any decor you are writing home about? Certainly your family has better things to do than read about the interior design of the places in which you’ve eaten.

But it doesn’t matter. It’s clean. You’re not there to look around in wonder. You’re there to eat from big, heaping plates of delectable Indian food cooked right when you order it.

Now that you know Manna is there, why are you still reading this? Head over now — Take your paper with you! — and enjoy what it has to offer.


Manna Cuisine of India

7908 N. MacArthur Blvd.

470-7099

What works: Garlic naan and biryani for days.

What needs work: Spice levels might be too high for beginners.

Tip: Call ahead if you want it to-go or strap in for a wait.


Print headline: Manna mania, Fabulous Indian cuisine returns to Northwest Expressway.

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