Avtar Singh Rathore has been in the restaurant business for more than 17 years and when he opened Taj Indian Cuisine, he wanted to be sure he was preparing his native Punjabi dishes faithfully.
Today, Rathore’s menu features 16 different tandoori breads that range from a sweet kabuli naan with coconut, almonds, and raisins to a savory paneer kulcha stuffed with onions, housemade cheese, and fresh herbs. His other specialties include chicken and lamb kebabs that are marinated overnight and curries that are prepared with halal meats. The chef can customize any of these curries according to your preferred level of spiciness and the color currently featured on your mood ring. Rathore also has other restaurants in the Richmond area.
Under the trained eyes of the chefs at BanZara Restaurant, tender pieces of lamb absorb the piquant spices in lamb khorma’s coconut gravy, while marinated chicken chunks cook over a charcoal griddle before being dunked into delicious sauce for a tikka dish. The culinary team also pulls from Indo-Chinese recipes, combining eggs with flavored chicken and cooking deep-fried dumplings with traditional Indo-Chinese spices. In addition to dinners, the chefs also craft a lunch buffet of new dishes every day of the week, which diners can sample while ensconced in the eatery’s leather booths or, if they ask very nicely, straight from the chef’s ladle.
The culinary team at the core of The Curry House is as dedicated to serving their customers as they are to serving authentic Indian cuisine. Their menu explores regions all over the diverse country, but it specializes in traditional curries and tandoori entrees. Zesty rice biryani is tossed with vegetables, chicken, lamb, and goat, and regional curries pop with exotic spices and chilies. The kitchen also churns out vegetarian dishes that include crepe-like dosas stuffed with spicy potatoes.
Inside this elegant eatery, undulating mirror segments reflect glimpses of signature kebab and kahari plates precariously stacked along the waiter's arm. Below small ceiling lights arranged like a constellation, tables are festooned with traditional clay-oven tandoori and masala dishes—but this is a small part of Noorani's ample repertoire, which ranges from Indian and Pakistani fare to a completely separate menu of traditional Chinese dishes. The staff prepares fresh fish and chicken coated in zesty sichuan, ginger soy, and orange sauces over noodles or tender rice. Guests, meanwhile, can load plates with cuisine from the 15-item daily lunch buffet and question regulars about Noorani Kabab House's live entertainment. The merriment syllabus presents comedy nights, concerts, and some guy who used a single chopstick to eat a bowl of hot-and-sour soup.
Featured as one of the Best New Dining Spots of 2010 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Lehja lays out a bountiful menu of traditional Indian dishes, sprinkled with a dash of contemporary flair, paired with a well-appointed wine list. Ignite your taste buds with the Fire Cracker chicken tikka, slathered in a ghost chili marinade and painted with haunted mango kewra ($9), and then repel culinary vampires with an order of garlic naan ($4). Lehja teases tongues with a sampling of the gastronomic masterpieces from the 28 best Indian states, including aam-anardana ka gosht––succulent lamb morsels sautéed with pomegranate seeds, mango, and scallions ($19)––and the classic chicken tikka masala––roasted chicken-breast chunks snorkeling in a sea of creamy tomato sauce ($16). Lehja's meaty menu also includes a septuplet of dishes designed for herbivores and herbivoyeurs, such as the paneer-asparagus lababdaar—a dish accented by bell peppers and a coriander-seed tomato sauce ($16)—and the dal of the day––a regional stewed-lentil delicacy ($12).
The Wahla brothers have spent the past 25 years perfecting their spin on authentic Punjabi cuisine, opening restaurants throughout Scotland and the United States. Inside the kitchen of their latest venture, Tandoori Village, clay tandoors bake skewers of chicken, beef, and shrimp while chefs marinate jumbo prawns in yogurt, knead soft balls of dough for baking buttery disks of naan, and deep-fry chicken and goat samosas. An ornate carved door with golden embellishments looms at the entryway of the restaurant, giving way to the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges that accent the walls and drape across ceiling timbers, and elegant archways that house traditional lanterns and clay pots. Outside, the patio's additional seating encourages outdoor dining and easier hitchhiking on passing tractor beams.