In 1997, Chef Muhammad Uddin took over a failing Indian eatery with dreams of turning it into something more. After closing to remodel the dining room and overhaul the menu, he threw open the doors of the new restaurant, which he renamed Bengal Tiger Cuisine of India. By 2009, it had grown such a large following that Chef Uddin moved to a bigger location with ample seating, a full bar, and space for servers to practice their plate-spinning acts on breaks.
Though the warm-colored decor and friendly service are a draw, the real key to Bengal Tiger's appeal is the food. Chef Uddin and his team rely on fresh spices and lean-cut meats to flavor recipes from across India?from the madras curry inspired by the city of Chennai to the vindaloo dish that originated in Goa. Though Bengal Tiger's menu is ? la carte, servers spread out a smorgasbord of entrees during the Chef?s Special dinner buffet, which, like games in the world's least active football league, occurs on the last Sunday of every month.
At Quazi's Indian Curry House & Mediterranean Cuisine, each bowl of curry or platter of tandoori-baked meat comes with a side of history. The gregarious owners are happy to share the evolution of Indian cuisine with guests, even pinpointing the origin of certain recipes all the way back to 300 BC. The menu itself divulges some of these stories, citing the region of origin for some dishes and telling the tale of how biryani rice felt that time mangos left it for a hot dish of curry.
The cuisine of India varies greatly from region to region, yet the chefs at Jewel of India are familiar with it all. They cull inspiration from every corner of the diverse nation, with the resulting menu including sundry vegetarian selections, chicken and lamb curries, tandoori fish, and baked-to-order naan, paratha, and roti breads. Diners may sample a whole swath of dishes by stopping by the lunch buffet, which is just as colorful—and even more thrilling to eat—as the framed Indian artwork lining the restaurant’s walls.
Gleaming copper bowls parade out from Mirch Masala's kitchen, bearing the colorful meats, seafood, and vegetables of both traditional and modern Indian dishes. More than a dozen different types of naan bread rise in tandoori ovens before sopping up sauces from curry, paneer, vindaloo, and masala dishes. Come lunchtime, a buffet line snakes across the dining room, beneath glimmering chandeliers and paintings of Indian songstresses and Bollywood stars doing laundry.
Pakora: an Indian snack made of chicken, fish, veggies, or paneer, battered in chickpea or lentils and lightly fried, usually served with chutney.
Paneer: a white South Asian cheese made from boiling cow's or water buffalo's milk and curdling it with whey; it dates back to at least 6,000 BC.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Clear your palate and make your mark by depositing your gum at Pike Place Market’s Gum Wall (Pike Street at Post Alley, just west of 1st Avenue).
After: Give back by dropping some coins in Rachel the Pig (Post Alley and Western Avenue), a bronze piggy bank at Pike Place Market—proceeds benefit the market directly.
Where to Sit: When the weather’s nice, try to snag a spot next to the burbling fountain on the outdoor patio.
Insider Tip: There’s a separate all-organic menu, which includes wine and beer, that’s designed specifically for eco-conscious diners.
Biryani: an Indian rice dish made with fish, meat, or vegetables and saturated with spices such as saffron and turmeric.
Tikka: bite-size pieces of meat that are simmered in a fragrant, yogurt-based sauce and cooked on a skewer.
While You’re in the Neighborhood