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Indian Harvest shares cuisine’s full bounty

Two popular mainstays Indian Harvest: oven-baked naan — flatbread seasoned with chopped garlic — aromatic saffrrice.  |  Richard

Two of the popular mainstays at Indian Harvest: the oven-baked naan — flatbread seasoned with chopped garlic — and the aromatic saffron rice. | Richard A. Chapman PHOTOS~Sun-Times

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796 Royal St. George Dr., Naperville;
(630) 579-9500;

Prices: Appetizers, $5-$11; entrees, $12-$24; desserts, $4-$7.

Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; Dinner, 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Try: Harvest combination platter appetizer, shrimp curry, roganjosh (braised lamb).

Tips: Buffet at lunch ($10.95 plus tax). Conversation-friendly. Go with a group at dinner to sample a variety of dishes. Full bar service. Private party room. Carry-out.

In a bite: Indian food covers a broad palette of taste sensations, and Indian Harvest offers diners plenty of choices to sample this exquisite cuisine.

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Updated: November 8, 2011 3:15PM

Spices, herbs, fruits, vegetables and grains all add distinctive flavors to Indian cuisine, a product of centuries of interaction with various groups and cultures. We’re happy to find the fare widely represented on the local restaurant scene as more and more Americans discover the exciting tastes this “exotic” culinary branch has to offer.

The Indian Harvest restaurant in Naperville is a good place to enjoy the food, whether it’s a get-acquainted exploratory visit or a return trip covering familiar territory.

Though the menu at this nearly four-year-old establishment specializes in Punjabi cuisine from northwestern India, it covers a lot of ground. It can be intimidating to have so many choices, from dozens of vegetarian and non-vegetarian appetizers and entrees, rice dishes and breads baked in-house to tandoor clay oven preparations, seafood, lamb and chicken specialties, and desserts. But not to fear: A knowledgeable waitstaff stands by to explain the preparations and make suggestions.

Diners sit at white linen-covered tables or booths, and large parties can reserve a cozy private room. To test the mettle of the kitchen, go with a few friends and share starters, main courses and desserts.

The meal starts with a complimentary basket of pappadam, a crisp, cracker-like snack baked from lentil flour and accompanied by three mild dipping sauces: mint, tamarind and a salty Indian pickle.

A pleasing shareable appetizer, the Harvest combination platter ($9.95), came with chicken tikka (pieces of boneless grilled chicken), lamb kebab, potato fritter and vegetable samosa. A vegetarian version also was available.

An order of garlic naan is always appropriate. The oven-baked flatbread tastes fine on its own and can double as a handy tool for sopping up sauces too good to leave behind.

Shrimp fans will take pleasure in Indian Harvest’s shrimp curry. The plump crustaceans were cooked to perfection in a mild, aromatic sauce. Fellow diners ordered roganjosh, cut-up lamb braised in a cardamon and clove sauce, and the Harvest Non-Vegetarian Feast, a sampler of various tandoori kabobs, vegetarian and meat curries, and basmati rice.

The portions were more than ample enough to assure leftovers.

Among intriguing vegetarian entrees were pan-fried baby eggplants in a ginger, garlic and tomato sauce; okra with onions and chopped tomatoes, and saag paneer, spinach slowly cooked with cubes of spiced cottage cheese.

For those who prefer a kick with their food, classic dishes such as shrimp vindaloo turn up the heat. Just advise the waiter of your preferences and the level of spiciness can be adjusted accordingly.

A handful of desserts were available during our visit. Of the two tried at our table, refreshing pistachio kulfi (ice cream) and gajar halwa (sweetened grated carrots cooked in milk and served warm), the former was a hands-down favorite.

Indian Harvest’s prices won’t break the bank. A recent dinner there averaged $27 a person, excluding alcohol and tip.

Thomas Witom is a local free-lance writer.

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