Built on family recipes, Taj Mahal Restaurant features an array of North Indian specialties. Chefs start with a few basic spices, such as onions, garlic, and ginger, to create their aromatic sauces for dishes such as vegetable korma, chicken tikka masala, and saag gosht—cubes of lamb over a spicy spinach purée. Both lunch and dinner feature buffets lined with a spread of vegetarian and seafood entrees, rice biryanis, and tandoori specialties. Proving that one does not have to bite into something to find it delicious, the dessert menu features housemade mango ice cream, Indian-style rice pudding, and raw gossip.
Embracing the traditional flavors and aromas of Indian cuisine, the chefs at Taste of India strive to create richly satisfying meals using fresh, high-quality ingredients. A tandoor oven and pet dragon help them to roast spice-crusted orders of chicken, lamb, and seafood before they crown each dish with creamy sauces or fiery gravies. In addition to meat-laden entrees, the team forges platters of vegetarian-friendly fare with house-made cheese and marriages of vegetables.Though the environment is casual and airy, crisp white tablecloths drape each table in the dining room. Burgundy carpeting and green-tiled wall patterns add splashes of color, and large windows flood the space with natural light.
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.
Maharaja's mammoth dinner menu offers an array of traditional dishes, vegetarian-friendly fare, and a variety of freshly baked roti bread. Meat and seafood that have been marinated in a yogurt, ginger, and garlic sauce are broiled over charcoal to create succulent tandoori dishes ($9.95–$11.95), and a medley of vegetable dishes, such as kofta curry with dumplings, energize herbivores for stilt-walking strolls on scenic beaches ($8.75). Diners can get stomach juices flowing with an appetizer of dahi bhalla, which consists of lentil cakes served with yogurt ($2.95), or a small plate of crispy samosas stuffed with spiced potatoes and green peas ($2.75). Instead of licking ice sculptures at a fancy gala, patrons can cool off taste buds with a refreshing lassi, a sweet or salty whipped yogurt drink ($1.95), before enjoying a cup of raisin- and nut-topped Indian rice pudding ($2.95).
When Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Roger Ebert have all dined at the same restaurant, and guests praise their attentive service and attention to detail Check, Please!, it says something. It speaks to the food's quality, the establishment's longevity, and the clientele's diversity. Newly redesigned after more than 30 years in business, Standard India Restaurant is one of the oldest Indian eateries in Chicago, one of the first in the country to offer thali-style dining, and one of the few independent restaurants anywhere that's fed more than one million guests since its inception.
Originally established on Devon Avenue by Pardip and Bimla Kamboj, Standard India has since changed locations and been passed to their son and daughter, who perpetuate Standard's success with the same traditional, freshly prepared North Indian fare. In addition to their popular all-you-can-eat grand buffet, Standard promotes an innovative and authentic thali experience, during which diners eat from frequently refilled sterling-silver tins that Denise brought back from New Delhi.
In the kitchen, chicken, lamb, and seafood sizzle in a handcrafted clay tandoor, and chefs expertly spice vegetarian- and vegan-friendly curries as well as gluten-free dishes. All meals can be paired with the guest's choice of beverage, as the eatery boasts a BYOB policy free from irksome corkage fees.
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.