Upon arriving to the United States from Pakistan, Muhammed Samdani could only focus on one thing: how mediocre the local Pakistani cuisine tasted. Though the engineer had started to retrain in the American school system to get his American engineering degree, he was so appalled by the food that he completely had a change of heart and decided to become a chef.
He knew he could bring the authentic flavors of his Indian heritage and Pakistani homeland to the states, so he flew back overseas to India to study under three separate chefs. He eventually mastered their recipes—including a few secret family recipes given to him by the chefs—and came back to the States.
Now at Kabob N Kurry, his dishes embody the culinary traditions of Hyderabad and Delhi, with both well-known favorites, such as chicken tikka masala, and the less familiar, such as beef do pizza—clay-oven-baked bread stuffed with chicken and spices. Some of his dishes are so complex they need to be ordered 24 hours in advance of dining times, giving the kebabs time to soak up the flavors of the clay oven or to full absorb the sweet flavors of steamed saffron.
All of the meats used are prepared in the zabiha halal method. Those abstaining from meat can indulge in a variety of vegetarian dishes or delight their inner child and eat nothing but dessert.
The bar’s hanging lights glow like down-turned tulips against cobalt walls. A plush corner nook invites lingering with low-slung tables and vibrant throw pillows. Peeking through the lattice of Guru Palace’s decorative blue dividers, patrons can catch an eyeful of the restaurant’s centerpiece, a sprawling wall mural of the Taj Mahal.
Surrounded by decor that the Phoenix New Times called “a deliberate antidote to the sameness that sometimes pervades local retail complexes,” patrons tuck into a menu of traditional Indian dishes. The paper also named Guru Palace Best Indian Restaurant of 2010, lauding foods baked in a traditional tandoori oven and a wide range of vegetarian options. The chefs at the eatery specialize in Mughlai cooking, and the dining room’s burgundy tablecloths crowd daily with fish and lamb entrees infused with ginger, cumin, and red chili. Warm], baked naan breads and samosas sop up sauce, and bottles of wine can raise spirits after the realization that a vehicle’s owner’s manual says nothing about driving underwater.
India Gate’s chefs immerse fresh shrimp in a spiced marinade and saturate chicken breasts with yogurt and ginger before slow-cooking the meats in a traditional tandoor clay oven. Speared lamb and minced beef pieces also spend time roasting in the oven, while nearby stoves heat pots of curry to simmering, and fluffs up rich basmati rice imported from India. The chefs can also whip up authentic dishes en masse for the restaurant's daily buffets and its banquet hall, which can host up to 250 people for a sit-down dinner or 25 people for a curry-fueled dance off.
At each of Tandoori Times Indian Bistro’s three locations—including one nestled inside a Holiday Inn—crimson and cream walls surround tables weighed down with indian curry, rice, and tandoori dishes. While morsels of lamb, seafood, and chicken prepare for supper by bathing in aromatic indian spices, soft naan bread keeps diners entertained by diving into appetizers of mango chutney.
Patrons can let the wind sweep through their eyelashes on one of the outdoor patios or form their own sweet breezes by puffing out fruity plumes of a hookah smoke on the weekends. Belly dancers weave their way across dining rooms on select nights, which contributes to each location's traditional atmosphere and each diner's desire to enroll in belly-dancing lessons.
Southern Spice Indian Cuisine celebrates the culinary traditions of South India with both traditional and modern Indian dishes. Biryani, a dish of Persian origin, melds spiced basmati rice with mutton, chicken, or vegetables, and crispy dosas turn rice and lentils into crepes before filling them with veggies. Chicken, paneer, shrimp, and lamb acquire flavor inside tandoori ovens, and chefs whip up specials such as steamed and spiced thai sea bass wrapped in banana leaves, which can be used to lure a hungry badger into a rival team’s bobsled.
Taj Mahal's chefs channel the majesty of their namesake into their meticulously spiced menu, dressing plates with a panoply of rich aliments. Each chef’s special carries savory entrees amid a sprinkling of sides and pared-down courses. Decorate the boneless basil lamb ($16.99) with cooling and creamy raita, or soak up the spicy broth under the slow-cooked chili chicken ($16.99). Seafood specials include the banana-leaf-wrapped patrani machchi, which stars succulent sea bass ($18.99), and goa prawn that rest on plates flooded with tide pools of rich coconut milk and piquant spice blends ($17.99). Each chef’s special includes raita, rice, naan, daal, a fresh house salad, and concludes with an ambrosial dessert.