Klay Oven presents Indian cuisine cooked via a centuries-old tradition—harnessing the flavor-trapping powers of a clay oven (tandoor) or an Indian Wok (karhai) to create healthy, low-fat sub-continental sustenance. Launch into lunching with the matar aloo samosa, a puff-pastry filled with a delectable mixture of peas, potatoes, mango seasoning, and spices ($5), or fire up feasting with the masala papadam, featuring savory lentil wafers with coriander, fresh mint, and special seasoning ($3). Tandoori-cooked offerings include jheenga bemisaal, a team of tiger prawns synchronized-swimming in yogurt, ginger, and spices, and banded together by a buttery garlic paste ($26), while a convoy of karhai-cooked, stir-fried suppers include lamb and chicken dishes. For herbivoyeurs, Klay Oven summons the powers of sky and earth to create vegetatrian plates as well.
Today Kama owner and chef Vikram Singh cooks his internationally influenced Indian cuisine with a goal to give diners an experience that stimulates all the senses. Perhaps that calculated idea came from his background in mathematics and engineering. Or perhaps it came from his father, a renowned chef in India whose cuisine has impressed King Abdullah of Jordan and former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. After a successful career working with numbers, Vikram and his wife opened Kama to bring the local area an inspired, unique Indian menu—and one that would certainly meet his father’s inimitable standards.
Chef Singh actually draws on four decades of experience crafting his made-from-scratch sauces, homemade paneer, and spicy lamb dishes. To keep things interesting, he engages American, French, and Chinese traditions as he invents entrees such as tamarind-glazed baby back ribs and lamb tacos. But he isn’t the only one creating new tastes under his roof. Kama’s bartenders mix cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and spike martinis with unconventional flavors such as cucumber, cinnamon, and rosemary. The restaurant recently received a 2014 Michelin Bib Gourmand award, given to the guide's favorite spots for high-quality cuisine at good value.
More than 30 years ago, the Kamboj family helped launch Devon Avenue's Little India neighborhood with Standard India Restaurant. Its fresh North Indian cuisine attracted visitors from Madonna to Michael Jackson. Now in Lakeview, the Kamboj clan features both family-style thali dining and a buffet.
Vermilion has garnered a great deal of press and accolades over the years. From being named one of Chicago magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2004 to gracing the pages of Esquire in an article titled "15 More Restaurants Not to Miss," the restaurant is no stranger to the spotlight. And at the heart of its success is Rohini Dey, a former consultant who, in 2003, decided to dive whisk first into the restaurant biz. Inspired by her Indian heritage, Dey set out to re-engineer the country’s traditional approach, fusing contemporary homeland flavors with elements of similarly bold Latin cuisine.
At Vermilion’s Chicago and New York City locations, the chefs craft meat and vegetarian fusions. Some of their most successful creations include the Gourmet-lauded duck-vindaloo arepas, lobster tail stewed in coconut-and-curry-leaf gravy, which was named the top dish worldwide by USA Today in 2004, and the tandoori skirt steak, hailed by Esquire. The decor mirrors the artful approach to dining, with sleek white spaces accented by black-and-white photos taken before the invention of color. Both locations also incorporate lounge areas that often come to life as fusion music, specialty cocktails, and a global wine list circulate the space.
At Bombay Spice Grill, you don't have to grab a table to enjoy the spices and sauces of Indian cuisine. Instead, Executive Chef Sunil Kumar designed a menu full of Indian meats, tofu, curries, and toppings that can be customized into a flavorful meal-on-the-go. Though the sauces come in traditional varieties such as curry, tikka masala, spinach, and vindaloo, the preparation veers from the methods of India to create healthier dishes. Chefs eschew cooking with ghee—Indian clarified butter—and instead use olive oil for heart-healthy wraps, sandwiches, salads, and bowls. And though wraps come with a slice of freshly baked naan or roti bread, clients can opt to make their dish gluten-free by swapping out bread for quinoa or rice. Guests can even customize their dish to be vegetarian and vegan, with ingredients clearly denoted on the menu. And to pair with a main entree, they can grab traditional Indian sides such as samosas and rice pudding.
With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Indian Grill’s head chef and owner, Shri Tikka Ram Sharma, orchestrates a flavorful symphony of traditional Indian recipes and spices to create a concerto of savory northern Indian cuisine. Skewers pierce through chunks of chicken, lamb, and seafood before plunging into the fiery depths of a tandoor, a charcoal-fire clay oven that dutifully roasts and grills seasoned meats when it's not busy with its side job counseling down-and-out dragons. Sides of chutney complement the juicy flavors of the protein-packed entrees while bowls of curry pour forth aromas from a blend of classic Indian spices, including saffron, turmeric, and cumin. Most Friday and Saturday nights promise live sitar music, and complimentary oven-baked lentil wafers are always on duty to help keep ferocious appetites at bay until main entrees make a grand entrance.