Masala Kitchen’s chefs use a bevy of spices to craft an authentic Indian menu of vegetarian and meat dishes. Kick things off with a sizzling appetizer, such as assorted veg pakoras—seasonal vegetables fried into fritters—or chicken tikka kathi, which features shredded chicken sautéed and stuffed in thin bread. Forks or pocket-size augers then dig through entrees piled on mounds of rice, scooping herbivore-friendly fare such as yellow tadka dal—a heaping of lentils loaded with garlic, chopped onion, and cumin seeds. Meaty dishes include kadhai chicken that’s seasoned with curry pepper, cumin, and garlic, and kashmiri lamb roganjosh, a boneless slab of lamb dressed to the nines in decadent onion sauce. Alternatively, the buffet grants all-you-can-eat access to patrons looking to sample everything or simply indulge endlessly in a favorite, and allows them to marvel at bottomless soda glasses yet to be explained by man’s limited understanding of physics.
Paradise Biryani Pointe’s thin curtains allow just enough light to illuminate plates topped with halal meats and traditional veggie dishes culled from Indo Chinese, north Indian, and south Indian recipes. House specialties include egg biryani with long-grained basmati rice cooked with veggies and hard-boiled eggs in the secret style of hyderabadi nawabi cooking. They also prepare traditional favorites including chicken tikka, goat curry, and fish curry.
A union of Middle Eastern and Western cultures, Fire N Ice Hookah Bar combines the laid-back charm of a hookah lounge with the music and swank of a nightclub. Customers roam through the electric bi-level space flooded by soft colorful lighting before picking their poison—hookah, drinks, food, or all three.
In the hookah lounge, they curl up on plush sofas cushioned by satiny pillows and reach out every so often to grasp the hookah pipe as it’s passed around, inhaling any one of 25 exotic hookah flavors. The smoke spirals up toward Middle Eastern tapestries hanging overhead or snakes around the top-shelf cocktails perched beside the pipe. It even intermingles briefly with the aromas wafting from Middle Eastern dishes—such as chicken tikka, korma sliders, and kebabs—before vanishing into the air as quickly as a magician at a science fair.
As the night lingers on, Fire N Ice begins its transformation into a full-blown nightclub. Belly dancers take to the stage first, twisting and shimmying across the spacious dance floor. By 11 p.m., the club's three DJs begin spinning top R & B and hip-hop hits intermixed with a few Arabian jams, signaling to guests that it's their turn to hit the floor.
Against walls of pure white and an ornate carpet laced with swirling embroidered flora, statuettes of horses rear up over steaming trays, hinting at unbridled fistfuls of spices. From the kitchen emerge golden knots of samosas alongside korma dishes and halal meats, and Punjabi and Mughlai influences gleam through in some concoctions. When the buffet is in action, more than 60 items fill the gleaming banquet table, which billows hot steam that foretells of fresh-from-the-oven tandoori dishes and goat biryani. A chandelier illuminates the perimeter of Shahnawaz Palace's banquet space, which staff configures for a variety of events, whether it is the large head table for a joyful wedding or the heaps of folding chairs for a wedding between professional wrestlers.
The sunset-orange hue of turmeric. The complex nutty scent of cumin. The slow-burning warmth of ground chili on one’s tongue. Spices touch all of the senses, and the precious seasonings play an important role in the kitchen at Shezan. Inside, clay ovens cradle chicken kebabs with ginger, paneer cubes marinated with herbs, and meat infused with the flavors of papaya. Waiters carry lamb, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes to the dining room, where forks clatter against plates with the cheery jangling of the robot arrival lounge at an airport. On weekends, a brunch buffet arrays 60 distinct desserts, biryani dishes, and tandoori options in the eatery, which the Home News Tribune called a “home away from home” for Pakistani diners.