Chefs at Neha Palace grind traditional indian spices themselves before sprinkling them over lamb cooked in curry sauce and skewers of minced chicken. During lunch hours, chefs prepare meals at buffet tables, hiding shrimp bites in piles of long-grain basmati rice and ladling tomato sauce over platefuls of cottage cheese or the mouth of any patron who yawns too loudly. A small collection of Indian-Chinese fusion meals includes egg fried rice and chicken noodles.
Inside Rani Mahal is something of a cultural adventure, with vivid Indian artwork lining watermelon-hued walls. The elegant, well-lit dining room sits visitors at white-clothed tables, where they dig into such traditional Indian dishes as lamb tikka: cubes of lamb marinated in yogurt, garlic, and spices, and roasted in a clay oven. Rani Mahal also curates a vast spread of vegetarian options, such as palak paneer, which pairs homemade cheese cubes with lightly spiced spinach gravy.
Kinara dishes up an authentic Indian menu in a casual, BYOB restaurant. Pre-meal nibblers such as the chicken and coconut mulligatawny soup ($4.25) pair well with tandoor-oven–baked traditional naan ($2) or a chicken-tikka-stuffed variation ($4). Like a DeLorean hot-rodded with a flux capacitor, Kinara’s entree selections span various meat and veggie dimensions. The rice casserole vegetable biryani ($13.95) and the spicy hara bhara kabab ($13.95) cater to herbivore diets, and almond curry-infused chicken korma ($14.95), lamb curry delicacy roghan josh ($15.95), and spicy crustacean classic shrimp vindaloo ($16) please meat eaters of all stripes.
Upon stepping up to the counter at Masala Kraft Cafe—two-time winner of a Best of Westchester award, diners feast their eyes on a host of vegetarian options bathed in traditional Indian spices and herbs. Owner Bela Mehta strives to serve the kind of quick, healthy food that is found on every corner in Mumbai, the city from which she hails. The entirely vegetarian menu features the Masala Kraft sandwich, a homemade veggie cutlet and cilantro chutney on grilled focaccia, and palak with onion kulcha, an authentic Indian spinach curry served with stuffed bread. One of their most popular delicacies is the dosa—crispy rice crepes wrapped around fillings such as spiced mashed potatoes—a street-food staple whose folded shape allows diners to eat on the go or burst into an epic Bollywood dance routine without spilling.
The Himalayas are known not just for their towering peaks, but also for the rich cultures that have grown in their shadow. The all-Himalayan culinary team at Himalayan Yak Restaurant re-creates the best dishes picked from Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Indian cuisines. Their menu is subdivided by region and organized to indicate which dishes are vegetarian, letting chefs highlight classic dishes such as spice-laden chicken chili or exotic yak tongue sautéed in garlic and ginger and served with Tibetan bhaley bread. Most of the dishes can be customized with a choice of meat—including goat and buffalo—or vegetables. A live band plays traditional Himalayan tunes as diners dig into their meals, creating an atmosphere that mimics the serenity of the highest mountain peaks or the feeling of meditating at the top of several glued-together zen gardens.
Aromatic herbs and spices, such as ginger, garlic, and saffron, are the foundation of Indian cuisine. Chef Mathew of Amla roasts and grinds these and other spices every day to season a South Indian menu of dishes such as yogurt-marinated basil chicken, lamb boti kebabs, and seasonal achari mushrooms, which simmer in a mélange of turmeric, coriander, and cumin. No matter what they order, diners are likely to find it accompanied by an unusual amuse-bouche: a preparation of amalaki, the Indian gooseberry plant from which the restaurant takes its name. Depending on the season, Chef Mathew may incorporate the flowers, fruit, leaves, or root into a complimentary treat, inspired by the plant’s many uses in Ayurvedic herbology. Born in Mumbai, the chef studied for more than a decade in high-end kitchens in India before arriving at Amla’s brick-walled, white-tableclothed storefront, where he’ll gladly take requests to make dishes extra spicy for a chili lover or extra-salty for a chili lover’s arch nemesis.