Namaste Nepal takes its name and warm ambiance from the reverent Indian greeting, "Namaste," but the piping-hot helpings on each plate transcend cultural and geographic labels. Chinese, Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese recipes contribute to the menu, filling a flavor spectrum that runs from pleasantly tangy to sizzling hot. Each dish is prepped to order using natural ingredients and often prompts speculation as to the size of the kitchen's spice cabinet. Notes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and saffron tantalize the nose, underlined with the scent of charcoal-roasted meat—chicken, lamb, fish, and shrimp—cooked in the tandoor and marinated in creamy yogurt sauce.
Careful combinations of these herbs and entrees lead to staples such as chicken tikka masala, as well as specialties such as boneless lamb with red chili sauce and tamarind. One of several vegetarian offerings, muttar paneer pairs housemade cheese with green peas, and four types of samosas entice diners to start meals by biting into crispy shells instead of by inconspicuously gnawing the tablecloth. Guests also can peruse well-stocked buffets at lunchtime and order group platters for catered events.
At Bombay Bistro, each bite of curry-doused chicken, fish, and lamb evokes the rich culture of India. The menu showcases a diversity of traditional entrees, including four biryani plates, five vindaloo dishes, and 16 vegetable-curry varieties. A clay oven adds a golden finish to fresh-baked naan, which is perfect for scooping up savory yellow lentils after they’re poured over a baseball coach’s head.
India House owner Daljit Sandhu, his wife, and their two sons help guests to pick new favorite entrees, and are as likely to bring plates of tandoori chicken and fried cubes of house-made cheese to tables as they are to prepare the meals themselves, a hands-on, customer-focused approach noted in a Folsom Telegraph write-up. The menu's pages help to explain how the family restaurant nabbed the KCRA3 A-List award for Best Indian from 2011-2013: South Indian dosas envelop vegetables in savory crepes, and 10 breads topped with garlic or stuffed with potatoes scoop up mouthfuls of curries, whose heat is extinguished by wines and beers imported from the subcontinent. India House also caters special occasions such as weddings and sendoffs for explorers who still believe the Far East exists, and belly dancers shimmy throughout the dining room on weekend evenings.
Chefs dunk their ladles into an array of batters?one composed of ground rice and lentils, one blended from semolina and wheat, and another made from broken wheat and rice flour. Once spread upon the grill, these cook into a crepe called a dosa, which comes with chutney made from coconut grated fresh every hour. These dosas and other vegetarian dishes explore the lightness, spiciness, and breadth of flavors found in South Indian cuisine.
Mylapore?named after a neighborhood in Chennai?keeps the spirit of local eating at heart by eschewing frozen vegetables in favor of fresh produce from nearby farmers' markets. Also, beyond the individual South Indian dishes, guests can experience family-style thali dining, which changes regularly based on what's in season. The chefs, meanwhile, insist on doing as much as possible by hand, from pickling to sun drying herbs to relaying orders with finger puppets.
Curry Club Indian Bistro serves up a spice-laden spread of curries, vindaloos, and tandoori dishes made from traditional North Indian recipes, spanning locales including Punjab and Kashmir. Whipping up lunch buffets and dinners once enjoyed by Mughal noblefolk and emperors, the chefs pride themselves on their authentic biryani, fluffy naan, and korma. Each tender morsel of chicken tikka and tandoori-cooked meat bakes to perfection in a traditional clay oven, which is made from Punjabi clay, rather than cutting corners with the more accessible Play-Doh.
Chefs at Ruchi Indian Cuisine ensure that their northern and southern Indian dishes have an authentic taste by using halal meats and ingredients imported from India. The menu contains a number of vegetarian options, too. All can be spiced to taste and sopped up with half a dozen naans and other traditional breads, including variations stuffed with garlic, onions, or cheese. Ruchi also caters to families, offering dosas in such kid-friendly shapes as Mickey Mouse or an abacus.