One of the many goals of the chefs at Taste of India is to clear up the misconception that all Indian food is extremely spicy. They do so by keeping customer preferences in mind while customizing offerings from a menu that includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
As evening settles in and dinner guests begin to arrive, peach- and grapefruit-hued walls take on a riper shade beneath sprays of painted leaves. Miniature tabletop lanterns cast buttery light on plates of lamb and fish kebab, rice biryanis, and tandoori chicken cooked in the heat of an open-hearth oven. While sopping up a goan shrimp curry with warm naan bread, guests can sip on beer, wine, or a cocktail from the bar. The clatter of serving utensils drifts from the dinner buffet, where patrons eat all they desire without having to help James Bond destroy his old yearbooks.
Redeem today's Groupon for any one of Ranjana's four classes: Everyday North Indian Lunch, Muglai Cooking, South Indian Dinner, and Quick Complete Meals. Each class teaches you nine different Indian dishes, all vegetarian. After your first session with Ranjana, you'll probably want to go buffet-style and try the others. Classes are available Mondays or Wednesdays from 6:15-9:15 pm or Saturdays from 9 am to noon. Call Ranjana in advance at (773) 355-9559 to RSVP. (Classes are intimate and fill up quickly; dates are subject to availability).
Recently featured in Fortune magazine, Chutney Joe's was founded by owner, chef, and self-taught culinarian Vijay Puniani. The restaurant uses herbs, spices, and six different chutneys to deliver high-quality, authentic Indian fare to on-the-go eaters looking for a quick fix between performing major surgeries. The thorough, no-frills menu lets you deliberate between basmati rice or naan (garlic or whole wheat naan is $0.50 extra) before choosing one ($5.99) or two ($7.99) of the entree selections (lamb, beef, or pork entrees are $1 extra). Entrees such as the chicken tikka masala and the beef korma delight carnivores, and green-tongued vegetarians have plenty of main-course options, such as the gobi potatoes and the red bean rajama. Chicken or vegetarian biryani ($5.99 each) is also available, offering rice-based sustenance.
Khyber Pass takes inspiration from the restaurant's namesake, a mountainous region in India where nomadic Pathans cook with clay ovens and just a touch of eastern spices. To prepare meals, chefs eschew the typical MSG and moon dust for 100% vegetable oil, roasting tandoori chicken and baking fresh naan bread over the tandoor's charcoal heat. Atop the cozy booths and tables, plates host a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes simmered in creamy tomato sauces, garlic, or homemade paneer cheese for dinner or daily lunch buffets.
Bustling chefs and a 600-degree tandoor oven fill The Indian Garden's kitchen, shaping meat-laden and vegetarian entrees made from traditional Indian recipes. Chicken marinated in spiced yogurt, minced lamb, and king-size shrimp make their way into a tandoor oven for a roasting, and more than a dozen breads help sop up entrees’ zesty juices. Lobster, crab, and veggies arrive at tables blanketed in curry, as diners converse or take in views of the expansive murals that depict scenes of Arcadian villages or the first-ever game of Marco Polo. The Indian Garden recently was recommended in the Michelin Guide Chicago 2013.
Curry is a major player in the kitchen at India Garden Restaurant, but it's not the powdered curry that you'll find in a grocery store. Here, "curry" means zesty vindaloo and tikka masala sauces freshly blended and spiced to each guest's preference. These sauces typically dress plates of lamb, shrimp, and chicken roasted in a clay tandoor oven, but the menu isn't totally meat-centric. India Garden's chefs also craft vegetarian dishes so spicy that each could start a fire; as a precautionary measure, pair yours with an imported Indian beer.
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.