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.
Within Mount Everest Restaurant’s clay tandoori oven, proteins such as lamb, catfish, and chicken slowly simmer in yogurt marinades, releasing the aromas of ginger and garlic into the saffron-walled dining room. In addition to the tandoori-cooked meats and veggies, chefs douse Nepali specials, such as steamed dumplings and goat meat, in piquant curry sauces. On the sunny upstairs balcony, breezes brush away wisps of steam from cups of piping-hot chai and the irons servers use to touch up naan marred by a crease.
Though Mehak's vibrant cherry walls, red carpet, and burgundy drapes evoke a royal experience, the eatery's friendly staff believes in modesty. That's why the chefs focus on crafting simple meals with fresh ingredients and comforting aromas.
Mehak, which means "aroma" in Sanskrit, focuses on North Indian cuisine, with stars such as savory lamb, chicken, and prawns served in made-to-order meals or loaded into a steaming lunch buffet. With a fresh-baked piece of naan bread in hand, diners are encouraged to scoop up smoky meats from the tandoori clay oven or quickly sponge up a portion of a tablemate's dal soup.
Behind the sparkling, beaded curtains draped over the window, Naan ‘N’ Curry’s dining room is abuzz as bright, powerful aromas of Indian and Pakistani spices fill the air. The eatery’s interior, marked by golden light and rich, red walls, reflects its colorful and eclectic menu forged from fresh ingredients that follow the Islamic dietary guidelines of Halal. Tender hunks of lamb and chicken simmer in tangy curry sauces, while entrees of beef and barley Haleem are slow cooked using time-honored Pakistani techniques.
Passersby might be surprised to smell the aroma of curry drifting past the Corinthian columns and looming, arched windows of the former Citibank building, which now houses Namaste Madras Indian Cuisine. Although the restaurant’s owners have updated the building’s 1926 architecture with cherry-wood accents, a tandoor clay oven, and distinctly Indian decor, including bronze elephants and other statuary, the building still retains some of its original charm. While feasting on a fusion of Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, visitors can crane their necks upward to view the building’s original ceiling, whose ornate beams still display quotes by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Paul Bunyan, and other founding fathers.
At Namaste Madras Indian Cuisine’s daytime buffet, diners load their plates with piping-hot helpings before the dinnertime rush, when guests order from a menu of vegetarian and nonvegetarian specialties. Among the restaurant’s culinary gems native to the city of Madras, dosa conquers appetites with crepes fashioned out of fermented lentils and rice flour. Taste buds also awaken to the symphony of spices in traditional curries, biryani rice platters, and boneless lamb cooked in the restaurant’s tandoor clay oven.