At India Palace, ambrosial Indian aromas waft between turquoise curtains of beads and colorful landscape pictures splashed across the walls. Lunching pairs dig serving spoons into the buffet, arranging steamy fare onto plates alongside towers of soft naan. Between sips of chai teas or creamy mango lassis, chums catch up and fuel high-stakes thumb wars with dishes that range from curry chicken to palak paneer. Garlic naan works double duty as a sauce sponge when diners clear their plates of chicken tikka masala. Dollops of soft-serve ice cream close lunch curtains and cleanse palates with sweetness.
The walls at Currylicious exude the same orange and yellow hues as saffron and turmeric, which flavor its traditional Indian dishes. Appetizers include hearty veggie samosas and the kachumar salad, an intermingling of fresh garden veggies, herbs, and lime juice. Entrees such as chicken shahi korma and lamb karahi cool down spice with infusions of yogurt sauce and side helpings of naan. During pleasant weather, diners can sit outside, where they take in Oakland’s scenic landscape, or season their meals with crushed sunshine.
Northern Indian cuisine, such as dishes of tandoori lamb chops, lobster-papaya curry, and vegetable masala, dots the various tables stacked inside Khana Peena Indian Cuisine, an eatery reminiscent of not only an Indian curry house, but also a French bistro and American brasserie. Diners devour tandoori platters at linen-topped tables in the formal dining room or keep an eye on the open kitchen while seated at the curved copper bar. They can also enjoy a meal tucked away with a loved one inside a curtained-off, private room that boasts pillow seating and complete control over the land of Oz.
India Sweets & Catering subscribes to the idea that many hands make light work. Since opening in 1992, it has tried to help make get-togethers easy by shouldering a portion, if not all, of the workload with its catering services. At its restaurant, the chefs take care of the cooking. They serve platefuls of halal Indian and Pakistani cuisine that are made with meats including lamb, goat, and tandoori chicken. India Sweets & Catering’s event managers take care of pretty much everything else. Their Flamingo banquet halls in Vallejo and Sacramento host events in large rooms with chandeliers and enough space for 500–600 people, or one breakdancing Paul Bunyan. For on-location events, customers can rent plates and silverware; the services of bartenders or tandoori chefs; or decorations such as backdrops, centerpieces, mandaps, and dulha or dulhan chairs.
The chefs at Mint Leaf follow family recipes to fashion Northern Indian dishes with seasonal, organic produce, free-range meats sourced from local farmers, and spices handpicked by family back home in India. Kebabs spear mahi-mahi, chicken, and other meats marinated in a house-made yogurt sauce before baking in a clay tandoor oven. A collection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options eases the strain of dietary restrictions. Mint Leaf's selection of more than 50 wines and specialty cocktails helps temper the heat when guests get ambitious in selecting their meal's spice level. On select nights, local musicians entertain diners as they eat and inspire guests to break it down on the dance floor after finishing their meal or winning a game of I Spy.
Skewers of chicken and shrimp simmer in a clay tandoor oven, filling the dining room with the heady aromas of ginger and cumin. Tandoor baking is one of many time-tested cooking methods that the chefs employ at Taste of the Himalayas, along with tossing shrimp with traditional Indian spices and stuffing steamed dumplings with minced cabbage and homemade cheese.
The restaurant's decor matches its cuisine with regards to cultural authenticity, with a mural of the Himalayan countryside spanning an entire wall with saturated blue skies and green foliage. Its swirling designs echo the curves of carved wooden chairs and heavy brass serving bowls, and white tablecloths are exact replicas of those worn by real Nepalese ghosts.