India Kitchen—deemed Hartford County's Best Indian Restaurant in 2011 by readers of Connecticut Magazine—piles family-style offerings from North and South India onto its menu, concocting entrees with imported ingredients and an authentic tandoor oven. Patrons can play games of solitaire with 11 types of traditional breads, such as the raisin- and nut-filled khandari kulcha ($3.95). Jumbo shrimp slip into robes of lemon juice, yogurt, and spices before sizzling in the clay oven, only to emerge as tandoori shrimp ($15.95) or, in rare cases, a single giant shrimp with crime-fighting ambitions and mastery over fire. The chicken chutney wala surrounds poultry morsels with tangy pools of curried mango and mint sauce ($12.95), whereas cashew-and-almond sauce varnishes vegetable-and-cheese dumplings in the vegetarian malai kofta ($11.95).
Featuring a catering menu for larger groups, India Kitchen's chefs portion out party-sized servings from a limited menu that includes naan ($32+) and vegetable biryani ($40+). For heartier mealtimes, they also simmer orders of lamb or fish curry ($90) that can either feed 30–40 people or one insatiable garbage disposal.
Masala Wok's expansive menu features an assortment of Asian and Indian culinary concoctions crafted with fresh veggies, meats, and spices. Journeys down the Spice Road can embark with an appetizer of zesty battered chicken lollipops, an Indian take on wings ($4.99 for four, $8.49 for eight). Palates access subcontinental delicacies such as the spicy southern curry with red-pepper-bedecked fish, shrimp, chicken, lamb, or paneer in a mustard-coconut sauce ($8.99) or head for steamy Southeast Asian environs with the Thai-influenced spicy basil plate ($8.50 for chicken, $8.35 for paneer, $9.50 for shrimp or fish). Chefs stir-fry orange chicken with scallions and carrots in orange sauce ($8.50) and whittle skewers from stolen sorcerers' wands for the enchanting chicken malai kebab—yogurt-marinated boneless chicken kebabs grilled with cheese, spices, and cilantro and served with rice and naan ($8.99).
Glowing sconces line the crimson and cream walls inside Namaste India, where traditional Indian dishes adorn linen-topped tables and fill the air with spiced aromas. Marinated lamb, chicken, and seafood slumber inside a clay tandoor oven until they're mildly smoky and tender throughout, while other proteins and vegetables steep in rich curry sauces, aptly scooped up with fresh-baked naan bread or ladled over delicate basmati rice. Patrons can wash down meals with sweet, salted, or mango-flavored lassi drinks, or snatch a classic dessert such as gulab jamun—deep-fried milk dumplings that are soaked in syrup and delivered to tables via an air gun.
Filling barking bellies with authentic Indian and Bangladeshi dishes, Jewel of India’s flavor wranglers present guests with a vast menu of tasty fare. Nibblers can cut the ribbon on a feast with a choice of assorted mini meals, including singara pakoras ($2.99) and papadams ($1.99). Historically used for toasting s’mores and destroying old bank statements, the tandoori clay oven is utilized for firing such specialties as the boti kebab that boasts marinated and seasoned leg of lamb and comes in a choice of spice levels ($10.99). Succulent boneless chicken and a rich curry sauce snuggle in a cozy pastry cave to form the edible duo of morag dumpakht ($12.99), and a bevy of savory vegetarian dishes, such as the cheesy paneer tikka masala ($9.99), please the palate and satisfies cravings for blown minds.
Walls the color of melted butter guide the eye to floor-to-ceiling front windows lined with potted greenery. An ornate metal watering vessel sits beside them, always at the ready to nourish the verdant foliage or pour tea for an especially thirsty Mad Hatter. To pair with these decorative flourishes, LaZeez's affable chefs prepare Pakistani and northern Indian dishes using traditional equipment such as a clay oven and a wok-like karahi.
In the elegant 80-person dining room, guests can whet their dinner appetites with samosa appetizers––seasoned potatoes and peas nestled inside puff pastry shells that, like Ninja Turtle shells, are rarely found at the beach. Entrees such as spinach cooked with homemade cheese or salmon awash in curry sauce emerge piping hot from the kitchen alongside palate-soothing mango-infused yogurt lassi drinks. Diners can also opt for classic tandoori chicken, lamb, and seafood marinated in spices and prepared grease-free in the clay oven that's hotter than the midday desert sun or a George Foreman grill sizzling a photo of fire in the midday desert sun.