Like an oasis in the desert beckons the parched, the words painted on the roof of the Taste of India restaurant in Buttonwillow call out to the plant-based diner traveling on I-5 between here and Bakersfield: TRY OUR VEGAN FOOD.
How could I not? So my husband and I pulled off the freeway and found our way to the restaurant. Inside, the menu on the wall listed some vegetarian items, but nothing marked as vegan. I thought there must be more, considering the insistence of the words on the roof. I asked the man behind the counter which items were vegan, and he handed me an entire one-page vegan menu.
Now, that was more like it! My husband ordered the samosas, delicious turnovers stuffed with a seasoned potato and pea mixture, and promised to share them with me. They were wonderful!
Since I love Indian appetizers, I decided to get an order of vegetable pakora too. These fritters, made of chopped vegetables mixed with a chickpea batter and then fried, were quite tasty.
For my entrée, I had the yellow dal, described on the menu as a mixture of "fresh-cut cauliflower and potatoes cooked with blend of herbs and spices." It was good, although it would have been better if I'd ordered rice to go with it.
I noticed that vegan mango lassi made with soy milk was on the menu, and I just had to try it. Lassi is a drink that's usually made with yogurt, and I don't think I've ever seen a vegan version of it before. It was a delicious and refreshing drink, perfect for a hot Central Valley day.
Taste of India is located at 20687 Tracy Avenue, just off I-5, in Buttonwillow, and their phone number is 661-764-6464. They don't appear to have a website, but their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Taste-of-India/113844088647087?sk=timeline. The restaurant is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.