Sitting inside Bombay Pizza Company, owner Viral Patel watched the Food Network's The Best Thing I Ever Ate, waiting alongside family and friends for a mention of his Slumdog pizza, a fusion of Indian and Italian flavors. After the 30-second spot, the restaurant erupted into a standing ovation.
Patel's journey to that moment first began when he quit his job in restaurant management to travel around India learning how to cook. Hoping to one day open a restaurant of his own, Patel returned to the United States and became interested in pizza, buying his own pizza stone and experimenting with new recipes, which fused Indian flavors with the traditionally Italian pies. He opened Bombay Pizza Company with the help of his mother, Sonali, who also inspired the Sonu's Rita pizza, which combines house-made cilantro-mint chutney with a margarita pizza. Soon after the restaurant opened, it was awarded Houston Press's Best Pizza in 2010. In addition to pizza, the menu features Indian street fare such as the kati roll with tandoori chicken and paneer and traditional Italian dishes such as lasagna and chicken parmagiana.
Today, Bombay Pizza Company has two locations, the original in Houston and a second, larger location in Sugar Land. Both eateries feature saffron-hued walls, the soft glow of Thomas Edison–style filament light bulbs, and photos of Bombay residents performing daily activities including washing clothes, fishing, and playing chess. The Sugar Land location also features an outdoor patio, microbrews on tap, and a private dining area.
The aroma of exotic spices and herbs swirls through Naseeb Indian Restaurant, reaching diners as waiters present North Indian cuisine at maroon-clothed tables. There, modern pendant lights illuminate platters of tandoori-baked chicken, lamb, and shrimp, plus traditional biryanis of long-grain Basmati rice and slow-cooked proteins. The cooks use Punjabi-style recipes to create six styles of tandoori naan, old-fashioned vegetable curry, and vegetarian dishes, which come with Indian cheese, creamy sauces, and the hearty type of vegetables backyard shrubs never seem to produce for some reason.
Owner Narin Sehgal and chef-in-chief Gary Grewal channel the culinary traditions of their Punjabi hometowns to craft delicately spiced dishes for a menu that was rated "excellent" by Zagat. Chicken tikka and tandoori prawns soak up a savory marinade before warming up in the same clay oven that gives a flame-kissed crust to breads stuffed with paneer, nuts, lamb, or mint. The black-lentil base of dal makhani spends an entire night slowly absorbing the essence of distinctive herbs, much like a college student cramming for a big botany exam. Abundant subcontinental flair outfits the dining rooms, including arched doorways set into clay-colored walls, rich prints, and tasseled chandeliers.
Mobi Siddiqui and Asim Malik have imported both the classic and contemporary tastes of India and Pakistan and infused them into Moghul's Restaurant & Lounge’s menu of tandoori and charcoal-grilled specialties. In the fragrant kitchen, chicken is prepared more than a dozen different ways, as the chefs pair it with flavors of pickle sauce, ginger, black-pepper sauce, and spicy curry. Chunks of boneless lamb marinated in various spices crown plates, and the leg of lamb–a Moghul’s delicacy–can be shared among a group of friends or used to gain an edge in a three-legged race. Basmati rice soaks up the spiced onion and tomato juices in biryani dishes, and meat-free fare arrives in the form of fried vegetable balls, lentils, and the spinach, cottage cheese, and traditional spices of classic palak paneer.
Indian Sizzler prepares a delectable menu of traditional Indian dishes, many of which are healthy. Garlic naan or paratha rolls sop up the sauces of popular dishes such as chicken curry—boneless chicken breasts marinated in garlic, yogurt, and ginger and swimming in curry sauce. Patrons hungry for a larger meal can combine their curry or kabob with a side of halwa, a dessert with milk, coconut, pistachio, and almonds. Sips from spicy soda give heat-loving tongues a kick and gulps of mango lassi or salt lassi—a salty blend of housemade yogurt and herbs—cool tongues more pleasantly than a bag of frozen peas.
At Kabab Kahani, grill masters skewer sustainably sourced, certified halal morsels of Indian- and Mediterranean-style meats, creating lamb kebabs, tandoori chicken, and gyros. The eatery also adheres to eco-friendly business practices such as recycling dinnerware and transforming leftovers into chicken feed. Guests can settle into the dining area’s vibrant red booths to gobble down falafel and lamb chops, or hop across the black-and-white-checkered floor in a game of human chess.