The Early Word -- Indian Express

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Dinner begins with free papadams and chutneys

The room dramatically snakes past a bar, culminating in one of those "wall of water" installations. Despite the fast-food-sounding name, Indian Express is a resolutely upscale Indian restaurant in an obscure location in the vicinity of City Hall.

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Bhel poori makes a fine shared starter

The food is mainly Punjabi and mainly good, with the street snack bhel poori making one of the best starters. Among the unusual tweakings of tandoori evident on the menu, cornish hen hariyali is one of the more interesting -- a pullet, really, thickly coated with green mint paste and thrust into the vertical clay oven. It comes out looking kinda scary, but tastes good anyway.

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The cornish hen hariyali isn't too sightly, but it sure is tasty

The lamb vindaloo's fine, too, mainly big chunks of lamb in a deep red sauce with a fair amount of heat. Many entrees hover just south of $20, and some exceed it. 18 Murray Street, 212-608-5555 

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