Priya Restaurant began when four housewives joined forces, fusing their experiences with homestyle cooking to create a menu of traditional South Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine. Roust slumbering appetites with starters such as the paneer pakoda, which quick-fries spicy battered cubes of cottage cheese for bite-size treats ($5.99). Priya builds international bridges with an enormous supply of suspension cables and a fistful of Indo-Chinese entrees, such as the chicken manchurian, where stir-fried meat basks in soy sauce and chilies ($11.99). Meanwhile, vegetarian tiffin meals arrive with an entourage of three chutneys and sambar, accompanying hefty portions of pancake-like uthappam ($7.99) or dosa ($7.99), whose rice-and-lentil overcoat allows it to inconspicuously sneak into unsuspecting mouths. Finally sip a selection of Indian beers while enjoying bites of the bendi masala's spicy platter of okra ($9.99), which silences grousing stomachs before they blurt out the secret hiding place of their owners' spare house keys.
The culinary preparers at Saffron follow the building instructions listed in a menu of meat- and vegetable-based Indian cuisine and inventive Indian-styled pizzas. An appetizer of lamb seekh kabobs colors grilled, ground lamb with flavorful spices ($4.99), piquing the interest of a stomach ready to prey on entrees. The tandoori fish, baked in a clay oven over charcoal and Steve Finley rookie cards, shepherds taste with an escort of two tilapia fillets marinated in spices ($7.99), whereas the paneer chili soothes growling tummies with vegetable cohorts of onions, green chili peppers, green peppers, and curry leaves ($6.99). Meat spurners can indulge the palate with the veggie biriyani, a long-grain basmati rice dish that stitches together a mélange of vegetables and spices ($6.99), like a quilt woven together with strands of piquant celery. Saffron's take on pizza arrives in forms such as the chicken tehalka, loaded with chicken, onion, garlic, green chilies, and a spicy tomato-chili sauce ($11.99/large). Any authentic Indian entree or pizza can be complemented with a fruity, milk-smooth mango lassi beverage ($1.99).
Dakshin Indian Cuisine's creative chefs blend southern-Indian spices with Chinese flavors, crafting a menu of artful eats with elegant tastes. Dakshin means "south" in Sanskrit, and the southern starters shine, with the traditional Rasam soup ($2.99,) chock-full of tamarind, lentil, and piquant spices, great for warming up stomachs and filling pockets with a snack for later. Thin, lentil crêpes, or dosas, hail from the south and come smothered with cooked minced meat in the keema dosa ($9.99) or potato and onion in the masala dosa ($6.99). Chinese influences seep through the sauce of the szechwan chicken hakka noodles ($9.99), covered in julienned vegetables and sprinkled with secret messages in Mandarin.
Taking its name from a style of Indian dance, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill strives to capture the vibrant spirit and flavors of the South Asian subcontinent. The intermingling aromas of saffron, cumin, mint chutney, ginger, fenugreek, coriander, and green chilies fill the dining room, providing a brief overview of a menu that manages to highlight the regional culinary traditions of virtually every corner of the country.
The chefs embrace the northern tradition of roasting skewered chicken, lamb chops, and vegetables inside a geothermally-heated tandoor oven; they also create crepe-like dosas, which traditionally hail from India's southern regions. A selection of fried rice entrees and Szechuan-inspired dishes even demonstrates the chefs' versatility in creating Indo-Chinese cuisine. A la carte dining is also available.
With its simple wooden tables, tiled floors, and burgundy-hued booths, Thumka Indian Bar and Grill's dining room embraces a cozy, homespun spirit. Ornate lamps hang from the ceiling, casting their light across mustard-yellow walls, which are adorned with bronze sculptures and colonial-style windows. The warm ambiance makes the dining space an ideal place for birthday celebrations or hosting catered events.
Taj Mahal Restaurant, named for Uttar Pradesh's famed palace, celebrates India's diverse cultures and culinary styles. Its chefs focus on a panoply of ethnic recipes and regional dishes from areas such as Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra. They prepare everything from simple comfort food to meals traditionally enjoyed by the upper classes and their pet lobsters. They use traditional preparation methods such as the tandoor oven to bake and simmer chicken, lamb, and seafood with herbs, spices, and yogurt. Though they specialize in catering, they also serve dishes inside the restaurant, and they make Indian sweets in-house daily.
Home cooking can be hard to find when home is on an entirely different continent. But the owners of Himalayan Restaurant knew how to bring the flavors of their South Asian home to Chicago. They sought out Chef Bishnu Subedi, who relies on his 12 years of experience as well as his training in a Kathmandu culinary school. Befitting the subcontinent’s rich and diverse history, Chef Subedi designs expansive menus, which embrace the Northern Indian, Nepalese, and Asian subcultures that define the region’s cuisines.
This cultural fusion is readily apparent in dishes such as the momos: steamed Nepalese-style dumplings that are typically stuffed with minced chicken or vegetables and served by street-food vendors throughout Nepal. Northern Indian flavors completely shine through on certain dishes, including the tandoori chicken, which marinates overnight in spiced yogurt before the chefs quickly barbecue the meat inside a traditional clay tandoor oven. House-made paneer cheese and fluffy naan also evoke the flavors of South Asia; the restaurant further embraces its cultural roots by serving Indian beers and water from melted Nepalese glaciers.