Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
The chefs at Tandoor on Haight aren’t trying to reinvent Indian cuisine. Instead, the pair of brothers stick closely to tradition when making their North Indian dishes with a splash of Pakistani flavor, using recipes handed down in their family for three generations. Inside their tandoori oven, they cook up halal meats such as tiger prawns, lamb rubbed with house spices, and spring chicken marinated in yogurt, imparting all of the dishes with a subtle smoky flavor as if they’d been sitting next to a lit birthday cake all day. Guests can scoop up the spice-laden curries with the sesame naan, and even customize dishes to their desired level of spice tolerance. Meals can be served in individual portions or family style, for groups who want to get a chance to taste a variety of dishes. And to cool the spices even further, staff serve up chilled mango lassis, a variety of Indian beers, and local Californian wines.
Honoring the tradition of Pakistani and northern Indian cuisine, Rotee's chefs craft creatively spiced dishes from scratch amid décor inspired by Bollywood movie studios. Diners catch glimpses of chefs hard at work within an open-air kitchen as select cuts of halal beef, lamb, and chicken roast in a tandoor amid house-made chutneys and sauces. The menu brims with curries, meat-free fare, and traditional dishes such as chicken tikka masala and mutter paneer, as five varieties of naan emerge from the tandoor ready to soak up the flavorful sauces. Diners savor the exotic flavors and extinguish mouth fires with tableside yogurt hydrants as pendant lights illuminate the space's curry-red walls and pea-green seating.
Kennedy's Irish Pub & Indian Curry House is equal parts traditional Celtic watering hole and Indian restaurant. Chefs whip up a full menu of Indian specialties such as deep-fried pakoras and succulent tandoori meats until 1 a.m., when the kitchen appliances come to life. A hefty selection of domestic and imported brews flows from the taps, waiting to be soaked up by bar snacks including fries anointed with the pub's signature curry sauce. Ten televisions line the dining room, broadcasting high-definition sporting events to round out entertainment offerings of foosball, pool, and air hockey, in which flying hockey players slap at a winged puck.
Since 1992, Bombay Indian Restaurant's chefs have been perfecting their menu of traditional Indian cuisine, with their efforts earning the eatery the title of Best San Francisco County Indian Restaurant from Best of the Bay in 2009. Wafts of simmering garam masala and curry fill the air, heralding the arrival of spice-laden chicken, seafood, lamb, and vegetable dishes. An intimate seating area—with mural-filled alcoves, intricate woodwork, and candlelit tables—entices diners to eat in, and the catering and delivery services ferry meals to the front doors of homes or 12-story couch forts.
Darbar Restaurant's spice-slinging chefs create flavorful Indian fare and serve it in an intimate dining room. Beef, lamb, goat, and chicken curries provoke pieces of naan to dramatic acts of dunking, and house-made cheese dumplings, lentils, and vegetables make starring appearances in more than 15 vegetarian options. Softly lit wall sconces illuminate a 10-course lunch buffet, which chefs pile high with papadum, pakora, meat and vegetarian options, and dessert.