AROUND TOWN: Take a voyage to India without leaving Las Vegas

With its broad international tourism base, Las Vegas has long been a great town for eclectic dining — and it seems to only get better with each passing year. From Thai to Moroccan and from Vietnamese to Cuban, you can find it in the greater Las Vegas area.

Good Indian food has been available in Las Vegas for decades, and one of the leading purveyors of the spicy cuisine is India Oven, located at 2218 Paradise Road on the corner with East Sahara Avenue. Until a few years ago, India Oven was in business a couple blocks west of its current location in a shopping plaza on West Sahara Avenue at Interstate 15 that no longer exists. The restaurant’s current location in a modern brick strip mall is only one block off Las Vegas Boulevard, almost in the shadow of the Stratosphere Tower, but the place is easy to access because it’s at the relatively uncluttered north end of the Strip. The Stratosphere and Sahara are the only hotels in the immediate vicinity (both are a short walk away), but neither generates the kind of traffic that would make locals feel the need to steer clear.

Perhaps it’s because the Olympics were in full swing that I had a hankering for exotic foreign food this week. I chose to dine at India Oven, one of my longtime favorite eateries in Las Vegas, for its menu items that are oh-so-tasty and spiced just right — according to my palate, anyway. As the name of the establishment indicates, dishes cooked in an Indian tandoor oven are the specialties of the house. Chicken, lamb, fish and shrimp tandoor dishes are all served sizzling.

I ordered Lamb Karahi ($17.95), cubes of lamb stir-fried in a spicy reddish-brown sauce with chunks of onion, green pepper and tomato, while my dinner companion chose Chicken Jalfrazie ($15.95), boneless chicken pieces cooked with a similar assortment of vegetables. We also had a couple orders of warm naan bread, the Indian flatbread that is slapped onto the side of the tandoor oven and baked to perfection.

As with all Indian restaurants, you won’t find any beef on the menu, but there is a full array of vegetarian dishes at India Oven, including the Aloo Mutter ($12.95), a plate of potatoes and peas cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices.

Indian food is all about wonderful spicy sauces that, to my knowledge, can’t be found at your local Albertsons, so I find it essential to venture off to India Oven about every other month or so. At the time of this writing, six days into Olympic competition, the team from India — representing the second-most populous nation on earth — had won but a single medal, a gold in men’s air rifle shooting. But, alas, there’s so much more to life than sports — Lamb Karahi, for example.

India Oven is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 5 to 10:30 p.m. for dinner. Call 366-0222 to make reservations.

— John Maltby

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