Using traditional ingredients, Mughal Halal Tandoori has created an extensive menu of authentic Indian entrees bursting with a variety of flavors. Send taste buds down a culinary river with a range of Indian breads, including garlic naan (stuffed with freshly diced garlic, $1.50) and aloo kulcha (paratha filled with mildly spiced mashed potatoes and peas, $2.50), before docking at curry port, which is occupied by the likes of murgh makhni (butter chicken curry, $7.95) and tala ghost (lamb curry, $8.95). In addition to specialty dishes cooked in the tandoori, Mughal Halal Tandoori serves up a variety of vegetarian options, such as the bhindi masala (mildly seasoned okra, onion, ginger, and garlic, $6.95) and the bagara baigan (Indian eggplant cooked Hydrabadi style, $6.95). Cleanse a spice-soaked palate with the mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink churned with yogurt and milk and flavored with mango ($2).
The decor of Habiba Abdi’s restaurant, Gendershe Cuisine, is not ostentatious—she tries to impress the four senses besides sight. The aroma of all-halal meats marinating in signature spices tints the air, heralding Somali entrees such as the hilib ari, a goat dish that OC Weekly deemed "gamy and glorious." Mango lassis cool the tongue with a mix of almond milk, fruit pulp, orange juice, and vanilla. Pieces of bur—somali fry bread baked onsite—engage the hands, encouraging patrons to soak up lingering sauces with their dough instead of a friend's shirtsleeve. All the while, guests absorb the sizzling sounds of salmon and tilapia being sautéed in the kitchen's special "mother sauce."
Named after the Somalian city where Abdi’s father grew up, Gendershe Cuisine is an outpost of a kind of cooking rarely found in the United States, much less Orange County. Even so, Somalia’s rich culinary tradition—influenced over the years by Italy, India, and surrounding East African cultures—means that many dishes may look familiar even to the uninitiated. Crispy, triangular sambusas are relatives to indian samosas, ethiopian injera pops up beneath stews of beef, chicken, goat, or fish, and spaghetti and lasagna lie under sauces subtly spiked with Somali herbs and spices.
In the kitchen of India House Restaurant, Chef Bassi prepares lamb biryani, chicken tikka masala, tandoori shrimp, and other Indian cuisine. Located in the heart of Buena Park, the eatery welcomes guests with lemon-yellow walls and crimson tablecloths.
Namastey India looks like a small grocery store from the outside, but once inside, you’ll catch a delightful whiff of the OC Weekly's Best Indian Restaurant. According to the Los Angeles Times, owner, chef, and New Delhi transplant Ashish Pal grinds his own spices and bakes every batch of bread to order because he "wanted to do it authentic, do it right, do it the way it should be." Pal churns out regional fare such as channa batura, a spicy chickpea dish, as well as Indian staples, including samosas as perfectly crispy golden as if they were dipped in Midas’s fryer.
Shimmering fabrics, peacock feathers, and elephant statues adorn Tandoori Gardens' gold and ruby dining room, where the invigorating scent of Indian cuisine wafts amid white-clothed tables to appease diners' awaiting senses. The restaurant's namesake tandoor, a traditional clay oven, scorches marinated morsels of chicken, lamb, and shrimp to lock in their savory juices and unmask ice-cube impostors as diverse Indian spices merge to form saucy curries, steamy rice dishes, and a range of vegetarian-friendly fare. Patrons can scoop creamy sauces with freshly baked naan in the comfort of the interior dining room, or savor the sunlight in cushiony seating on the outdoor patio.
Chef Rafi did not create Fresh Kabobs to get rich. He finds his reward in the opportunity to share authentic Indian dishes, such as tandoori chicken breast and grilled whole tilapia, with families in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Inside his kitchen, chef Rafi draws from his pantry packed with USDA-choice Angus beef, fresh vegetables, and lamb imported from New Zealand to prepare each dish to order. Seated at dark-wood tables in the brightly lit dining area, patrons split spicy curry bowls brimming with basmati rice and sip mango lassis freshly blended with yogurt and spices. The dining area's high ceilings seem to extend to the stratosphere, past the red-tiled eaves and sky-blue murals dotted with fluffy white clouds shaped like cubes of paneer.