Vegetable samosa and chicken tikka masala were featured on the first India Night dinner at the Ramada this month. And the debut of the India fare was so well received that it will be featured once a month starting in January.

Served buffet style, the Indian menu includes vegetable rice and chana masala, a North Indian dish featuring chickpeas tempered with ginger and garlic. There also was a vegetable curry dish and naan, a soft white flour bread.

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Friends Joel and Amy Medd (JM and AM) were especially pleased with the chicken tikki masala. The marinated chicken is finished with with tomatoes, bell peppers and onions.

Food of India adds another dimension to dining in Grand Forks. And JM said they would go back for more. The Ramada has long had a steady following in the Aroma Restaurant where Karen Smith is manager. Sometimes quiet, the Aroma is a favorite after-church gathering spot. It is adjacent to Dreamer's lounge where there are weeknight dinner specials.

Ryan Gunville, who now is executive chef at the Ramada, has been on the job for seven years - working up to his position. He is creative and enthusiastic. He has two cooks assisting in the kitchen to turn out foods for banquets as well as the restaurants.

Various groups including the retired teachers and the Tuesday morning Lions Club meet at the Ramada. They tend to get acquainted with the longtime servers who work there, including Betty Williams, Michelle Omlid and Jim Dohman.

Sunday brunch draws steady business from people who enjoy lingering in the renovated café area. With an inviting fireplace, there is comfortable, upscale seating. The menu includes a Belgian-style malted waffle along with Texas French toast and other breakfast favorites.

The Ramada moves into holiday gatherings, serving groups ranging from 50 people on up to 250 people. Extra servers are called in to help out.

For the chef, it's an ongoing challenge. Gunville says, "It's fun. They really allow me to be creative."

Aroma Restaurant & Dreamers Lounge

Ramada Inn

Junction Highway 2 & I-29

Owner: Ashok "Smiley" Thakker

General Manager: Michael Smith

Executive chef: Ryan Gunville

Telephone: 701-203-2619

Report card: Introduction of Indian food adds interest to a variety of menus at Ramada Inn. A young, dedicated chef is creative. Renovated facilities are inviting.