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.
The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from many places: the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi, Indian street fare, and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries and kebabs that use 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 the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi ? is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options make it difficult to decide which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.
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.
At Bombay Spice Grill, you don't have to grab a table to enjoy the spices and sauces of Indian cuisine. Instead, Executive Chef Sunil Kumar designed a menu full of Indian meats, tofu, curries, and toppings that can be customized into a flavorful meal-on-the-go. Though the sauces come in traditional varieties such as curry, tikka masala, spinach, and vindaloo, the preparation veers from the methods of India to create healthier dishes. Chefs eschew cooking with ghee—Indian clarified butter—and instead use olive oil for heart-healthy wraps, sandwiches, salads, and bowls. And though wraps come with a slice of freshly baked naan or roti bread, clients can opt to make their dish gluten-free by swapping out bread for quinoa or rice. Guests can even customize their dish to be vegetarian and vegan, with ingredients clearly denoted on the menu. And to pair with a main entree, they can grab traditional Indian sides such as samosas and rice pudding.
With more than 30 years of culinary experience, Indian Grill’s head chef and owner, Shri Tikka Ram Sharma, orchestrates a flavorful symphony of traditional Indian recipes and spices to create a concerto of savory northern Indian cuisine. Skewers pierce through chunks of chicken, lamb, and seafood before plunging into the fiery depths of a tandoor, a charcoal-fire clay oven that dutifully roasts and grills seasoned meats when it's not busy with its side job counseling down-and-out dragons. Sides of chutney complement the juicy flavors of the protein-packed entrees while bowls of curry pour forth aromas from a blend of classic Indian spices, including saffron, turmeric, and cumin. Most Friday and Saturday nights promise live sitar music, and complimentary oven-baked lentil wafers are always on duty to help keep ferocious appetites at bay until main entrees make a grand entrance.