One of the great things about Red Deer is the number of East Indian restaurants available which as of this post totals to 5 (4 restaurants and 1 food court outlet).
Astha Fine Indian Cuisine, situated in the northwest side of Red Deer, was recommended by a co-worker of mine so I made the drive out for dinner one day.
The plaza has many other restaurants which means that if the food isn’t good enough, no restaurant will survive long.
Inside, the restaurant was dark with windows available on one side only so to make do, lighted boxes were added to another side to create the illusion of another wall facing the outside. The actual windows themselves were covered with hues of blue to red drapes.
The menu cover was elegant, consistent with the table setting and the interior decor.
My wife ordered the Lamb Curry which was described as a traditional flavored gravy in an onion and tomato base.
It arrived steaming hot, full of lamb chunks. It tasted different than the lamb curries that we had in the past. It had mild heat, but seen to have a stronger onion tone than we were used to. Speaking to the owner, we learned that every Indian makes their curry slightly differently and can vary through the regions of India as well. The lamb itself was tender and delicious without the gamey aftertaste that lamb can be often times.
Desiring something spicy, I ordered the Lamb Vindaloo which was described as lamb cooked in a tangy sharp sauce with spices.We were warned by the owner that the the Lamb Vindaloo was hot, but reassured him that we enjoyed our heat.
It arrived filled to the brim though compared to the Lamb Curry, there appeared to be less meat. The sauce definitely had plenty of heat and both of us were sweating through the meal. It was sharp and tangy as described. Between the two dishes, we enjoyed the Lamb Vindaloo more.
To go with the two dishes, we ordered Saffron Rice and 2 orders (we love naan) of Butter Naan.
The Saffron Rice was tinted yellow thanks to the saffron spices. Taste-wise, it had its own mild flavor and served as the perfect medium to support all the sauces.
The Butter Naan looked like regular naan, but with a shine that reflected light (no doubt due to the butter glazed over it). It was fluffy soft with pockets of air that maintained a crispy surface. This crispy nature gave the texture the other dishes sorely needed.
We loved the naan and used it as a carrier for mixtures of the lamb with sauce and rice. The blend of all 3 in our mouths was heavenly and exactly the way we loved to eat Indian food.
We were no doubt satisfied with our meal and thankful that East Indian food is traversing the country, becoming more commonly available everywhere.