The chefs at Lal Qila Restaurant, named for the ornate 17th-century Indian monument, serve up a lengthy menu of tandoori- and clay–oven-baked Indian and Pakistani cuisine. Doling out large portions, they sizzle up spice-driven dishes loaded with goat, lamb, seafood, or chicken. Vegetarian options include cheese- and lentil-based dishes that fill the restaurant with exotic scents more effectively than tossing around a boomerang slathered in curry.
Miki Trikha and his wife, Nidhi, hope to expose Americans to the popular street foods of Mumbai, where businesspeople on their lunch breaks crowd together, the scents of buttery naan billowing around them on the warm breath of ovens. The couple, who also operate an Indian grocery store, glide across a dining room that the Daily Herald calls “cute and contemporary.” Vibrant portraits span the length of the walls beside colorful, leaf-painted tables. Above a treat-filled glass case, a large menu board guides diners, explaining the flavors and lore behind Mumbai-style chaat. The popular street food combines a piece of fried bread with toppings including pomegranate, chickpeas, and tomato sauce alongside golden samosas and dumplings stuffed with zabiha halal meat or soaked in creamy yogurt.
The metallic symphony of a busy kitchen drifts into the room as chefs forge veggie crepes and crown tandoor chicken and lamb with fresh mint chutney. While downing imported Indian sodas, guests admire the eatery's high ceilings and exposed rafters, which shake with laughter and leave space for exaggerated gestures during fishing stories.
Inside a sizzling tandoor oven, 15 styles of naan, paratha, and roti soak in the heat until they start to take on a slight char. Peacock's chefs then pull them out of the oven, serving them hot as an accompaniment authentic tandoori meats and curries. Dining here is an experience for all the senses, from the soft cheese stuffed inside paneer naan to the spicy murg vindaloo. Almonds and pistachios inside the nuts naan give a tender crunch and make it easy to sop up sauces such as the creamy murg kurma or one of many shrimp or lamb dishes. Vegetarian options also abound for people eschewing meat or hoping a vegetable a day will keep a full range of medical professionals away.
While hungry diners bask in the sunlight out on the patio or filtering in through the 140-person dining room's window-lined spaces, chefs busily craft a mix of traditional and contemporary Indian dishes. On the modern side, chefs infuse familiar gourmet dishes with Indian flavors, such as in the lamb sliders with masala fries and mint chutney or the mango brûlée. Traditional dishes include curries such as the bright green palak paneer and chicken tikka masala in a rich tomato base. Meanwhile, baby lamb chops, chicken, and shrimp rise up from the tandoor on clouds of steam and power their way into the dining room.
The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi as well as Indian street fare and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries, kebabs, and grilled saris that utilize the flavors of fresh cilantro, chilies, and coconut. A reviewer for the Chicago Tribune praises the restaurant’s “incredibly tender tandoori chicken,” and Chicago magazine says that the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi … is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options beget multiple trips and consultation with a pack of tarot cards before deciding which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.
Taking its name from a style of Indian dance, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill strives to capture the vibrant spirit and flavors of the South Asian subcontinent. The intermingling aromas of saffron, cumin, mint chutney, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, and green chilies fill the dining room, providing a brief overview of a menu that manages to highlight the regional culinary traditions of virtually every corner of the country.
The chefs embrace the northern tradition of roasting skewered chicken, lamb chops, and vegetables inside a geothermally-heated tandoor oven; they also create crepe-like dosas, which traditionally hail from India's southern regions. A selection of fried rice entrees and Szechuan-inspired dishes even demonstrates the chefs' versatility in creating Indo-Chinese cuisine. A la carte dining is also available.
With its simple wooden tables, tiled floors, and burgundy-hued booths, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill's dining room embraces a cozy, homespun spirit. Ornate lamps hang from the ceiling, casting their light across mustard-yellow walls, which are adorned with bronze sculptures and colonial-style windows. The warm ambiance makes the dining space an ideal place for birthday celebrations or hosting catered events.