Taj Palace stays foodie-friendly with an expansive menu teeming with popular plates from Southeast Asia. Traditional Islamic eating laws are easily abided with the menu's exclusively Halal meat selection, where goat, lamb and chicken live harmoniously on plates teeming with spicy adornments. The tender Rogan Josh comes with your choice of lamb or goat meat, swimming through a heavily spiced sea of sauce ($13.95). The clay Tandoori oven spits out meat and seafood alike, and sautéed Kebabs stabbed through chicken, lamb, and various veggies take the guesswork out of selecting a side dish. The supplemental Chinese food menu offers another kind of Far East fare with a medley of fried rice, noodle, and chicken dishes. For those economical eaters who like to wash down their spicy Indian cuisine with a refreshing drink, the owners encourage the practice of BYOB.
The chefs at India Palace embrace traditional Indian recipes and cooking techniques, customizing the spice of each entree to meet diners’ preferences. In the kitchen, an imported tandoor uses smoldering mesquite charcoal to raise temperatures within its clay walls up to 550 degrees, roasting marinated servings of chicken, lamb, or shrimp as thoroughly as a deep-fryer full of magma. For their vegetarian options, the chefs can toss vegetables with house-made cottage cheese or aromatic basmati rice.
According to Patch, India Palace also features a small market next door to the restaurant, which emphasizes fresh produce, assorted varieties of rice, and traditional spices from India and South Asia.
There is more to chef Mohammad Rahman’s menu than the staples that diners have come to expect from an Indian restaurant, although crowd favorites do have reserved places. Rahman and his wife, Salma Khanam—who is the restaurant’s maitre d’—incorporate flavors from their homeland of Bangladesh, including fish fry combos and shak bhaji (made with custom-spiced spinach). Halal meats such as fish, lamb, goat, and chicken star in rich curry dishes, nicely accompanied by warm naan fresh from the tandoor oven. The eatery's lunch buffet pits stomachs against a bounty of dishes, piled high with delectables to reward diners who wore their nicest stilettos. Kitchen of India’s environment is warm and romantic, with white tablecloths serving as elegant yet neutral complements to colorful paintings and carved sculptures.
Spice India's chefs follow Punjabi traditions as they cook up authentic northern Indian cuisine to fill hearty lunch buffets with saucy fish curries, lamb vindaloo, and vegetarian paneers. While meaty kabobs cook in tandoori ovens, cooks knead more than 15 specialty breads, including garlic naan, unleavened paneer kulcha filled with homemade cottage cheese, and their house bread stuffed with marinated chicken. Guests can request a preferred level of spiciness to stop dishes from overwhelming their taste buds or setting the tablecloth on fire when spilled. Some nights, a live jazz band plays as guests sip the beer and wine they've brought to this BYOB eatery.
At the bottom of Aashiyana Fine Indian Cuisine's chimney sits a construction that has been the tool of Indian chefs for centuries: the tandoor. This traditional clay oven sears meat to its core with super-hot flames, turning chicken a signature bright-red color and transforming wayward snowmen into quivering pools of regret. Chefs drench these succulent morsels of tandoori meat with creamy curries and yogurt-based sauces, which they can customize to each guest’s preferred level of spiciness. Fluffy piles of wild-grain rice or buttery naan flatbread are available to escort entrees to the table, and the restaurant’s BYOB policy invites guests to bring their favorite brew or wine to temper the tingle of spice.
A short flight of stairs splits the dining room neatly in half, amplifying privacy by creating two intimate spaces. Maroon napkins folded into crown-like shapes await diners at each table, ready to flop into laps or adorn heads when the staff spontaneously knights you the Tandoori King.
The successful union of Indian and Thai flavors inside a chic, BYOB space has helped Spice Indian Thai Bistro earn praise from local press, including The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Craig LaBan who calls the eatery “one of the suburbs' best all-around Indian kitchens.” Round tables and cozy booths stretch across an expanse of rustic tile flooring, overlooked by saffron and burnt-orange walls and plentiful wood accents. Though the lighting is dim and romantic, it cannot mask the vibrant colors of chicken korma, lamb biryani, and hot-and-spicy Thai curries laced with coconut milk and enough bamboo shoots to please.