At Kababi Zaytoon Mediterranean Restaurant, the scent of crispy fried falafel blends with the sounds of chicken, kofta, and beef kabob sizzling to perfection. Tender lamb chops and flaky tilapia filets send hungry stomachs rumbling with anticipation, with freshly squeezed carrot, pineapple, and watermelon juice on hand to cleanse the palate. Crystal chandeliers cast a constellation of warm light over slate counters and walls of dark, varnished wood, while a stone fountain decorated with leafy ferns bubbles gently and invites guests to make wishes for an endless supply of baklava.
Well-provisioned with spices and sauces, Cuisine of India prepares savory North Indian and Nepalese dishes, assembling a substantial menu of regional recipes gathered by the owner's extended family. Broaden your tongue's horizons with traditional Kathmandu momo chicken dumplings ($7.00), before shepherding lamb or goat herds over palate plains flooded with creamy tomato masala ($13). A traditional charcoal-fired clay oven bakes flattened tandoori bread such as naan ($2) and cheese-injected paneer kulcha ($3.50), their rich tastes protected by highly trained leavening agents. For vegetarians, stuffed eggplant, brimming with vegetables and nuts, provides a healthy reprieve from strict candy diets ($13).
The Himalayan mountain range is home to some of the world’s tallest peaks, but travelers to the region know it holds something even more impressive than mighty Mount Everest. That would be the local cuisine, which is made possible by a confluence of Indian, Pakistani, and Nepalese traditions. Fortunately, Houstonians need not travel halfway around the world to sample regional dishes such lamb masala, goat biryani, and boneless chicken curry. At Himalaya, chef Kaiser Lashkari draws on family traditions to craft generous portions of dishes such as his Hanifia–style Hunter beef, which is best described as India’s answer to pastrami. As a bonus, the restaurant’s BYOB policy means guests can bring along a bottle of beer to enjoy or a canteen of melted Himalayan snow to suck a little extra nutrition out of.
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.
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.
Tandoori Garden's chefs superheat a menu of spiced meats within the confines of their signature clay oven, gilding tender treats in thick curry sauces and stewed vegetables. Sliced onions hide inside bhaji fritters ($2.99) to avoid prying eyes and legume-suitors within a fortress of Punjab-style pastry. A sprinkling of Indian spices dusts marinated pieces of chicken sizzling on the reshmi kebab ($11.99), and piping-hot tandoori prawns ($14.99) sibilate with the oven's searing kiss still upon them. Vegetables kick out meat-based figureheads to command attention in the baingan bharta, mashed eggplant blended with onions and tomatoes ($8.99); or the jhaneko dal's wok-fried yellow lentils ($8.99). Nepalese classics such as bone-in goat-meat curry ($10.99) or sautéed cauliflower bhuteko cauli ($8.99) showcase village spice combinations exported to the Americas in the minds of epicurean transplants or from the fists of Eastern chefs with superhuman throwing arms.