The aromas of North Indian cuisine draw passersby into Jewel of India’s brick-lined doorway, leading them toward tables topped with saffron-colored linens. Here, they can dive into more than 100 traditional Indian dishes, including crispy pakoras, spicy vindaloos, and seafood baked in a tandoor clay oven. Like the forecasts of an easily bribable weatherman, entrees can be ordered with one of five heat levels: mild, medium, spicy, X, or hot. Raisins stud many dishes, adding bursts of juicy sweetness to lamb makhani and vegetable biryani. Brimming with chicken tikka, boti kebabs, sautéed peppers, and fresh-baked naan, the Jewel of India specials can feed an entire family in the dining room or fuel an off-site party thanks to the restaurant’s catering service.
Inside Taj Grill, the air is thick with the tantalizing aromas of curry, ginger, and garlic, which drift languorously in from a bustling kitchen, where a single chef churns out northern and southern Indian cuisine steeped in centuries of tradition. The chef skillfully concocts more than 30 vegetarian dishes and aromatic curries spiced to taste. Marinated lamb, chicken, and seafood sizzle inside a charcoal-fired clay oven alongside rounds of unleavened naan, which the chef stuffs with seasoned potatoes, coconut and dried fruits, or mailing circulars.
Three sister restaurants—Taste of India, Jewel of India, and India Gate—fill the air in Amherst and Buffalo with the scent of aromatic spices. Lauded for centuries for their purported healing properties, these spices, such as curry, garlic, and ginger, add zest and depth to dishes such as chicken vindaloo and okra bhaji. Sides of basmati rice and more than a dozen flatbreads, such as spinach naan and onion kulcha, accompany each dish, helping diners scoop up every splash of sauce. The chefs in each kitchen customize the heat of every curry, yogurt, and cream sauce to suit diners’ personal tastes and boiling points.