Imlee. An Indian Bistro's creative kitchen staff blends local and imported ingredients in its array of vegetarian, chicken, seafood, and lamb dishes. In this way, they have been serving the Pinecrest community a small taste of India since 2003. The menu spans several regional traditions of Indian cooking, from North Indian clay-oven-baked meats and naan to South Indian chicken madras, in which boneless chicken is saut?ed with black mustard seeds and curry leaves. The menu also features more than a dozen vegetarian dishes, such as mutter paneer?green peas cooked with spices and herbs and mixed with housemade cottage cheese.
Much like the dishes, the restaurant's dining room pays homage to the subcontinent. Beneath a billowing red cloth that meanders across the ceiling, alternating red and yellow walls host patterned artwork and surround metal sculptures. In this artistic ambience, diners peruse the wine list's ample pairing options or just dip the list itself in sweet tamarind chutney.
Accomplished chefs trained in India and London whip up Indian dishes in Mint Leaf’s Coral Gables and Miami kitchens. The restaurant imports specialty ingredients straight from India, as well as equipment such as granite stone grinders from Mysore, which help make batter for dosas, uthappams (similar to pizza), and other dishes. House-made cottage cheese mixes with a spinach puree in the saag paneer, and curry leaves and mustard seeds mingle with fish filets in the macchili curry. Nine varieties of flatbreads, from plain naan to kulcha stuffed with onions and coriander, scoop up bites of chicken tikka masala and lamb korma. Bollywood music videos play in the background as customers dine amid Mint Leaf’s Indian art and sculptures, including carved stone statues of the god of bobbleheads.
The selection of Indian-inspired eats at Thali is far-reaching. The menu covers fish vindaloo, ginger lamb curry, and vegetarian daal tarka--lentils simmered in mustard, cumin, and chili. Diners can also sample Chinese-influenced dishes with a list of manchurians that includes cauliflower cooked with tomato, masala, and ginger-garlic sauce. Fifteen types of bread, from unleavened roti to chili garlic naan, accompany dishes and serve as a secondary napkin or tertiary baby hat.
The servers at Indian Chillies helpfully walk first-timers through the extensive menu. Their suggestions cover a range of timeless and modern dishes, from the tandoori chicken—praised by the Sun Sentinel for its "scrumptious charred exterior"—to Indo-Chinese chow mein. Though the kitchen staff labors over several zesty entrees, they specialize in smaller plates, such as samosas, halal chicken wings, and various flatbreads.
Vegan, vegetarian, and meaty plates satisfy diners of all persuasions, whether they're perusing the menu or loading the buffet onto the back of their truck. As their ears bask in Bollywood tunes, guests can finish up by sipping a mango lassi or savoring gulab jamun, a lightly syruped dessert of milk-and-cottage-cheese balls.
The "Desi" in Ellie's Desi Kitchen refers to the diaspora of people from South Asia settled in all parts of the world?a fact reflected in the diverse range of dishes in the restaurant's menu. Guests chow down on an eclectic spread of steaks, chicken po' boys, veggie stir-frys, fluffy naan bread, spicy curries, and their specialty, a spicy chicken sub. The decor also reflects the cosmopolitan flavor of the bill of fare. Wall scrolls of flowers and birds hang over tables laden with American ketchup and mustard bottles, while a photomontage places Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal side by side?just like they are in real life.
To ensure the authenticity of their menu, Tandoor & Curry's proprietors hired a chef who draws upon more than 20 years of culinary experience, including many spent cooking at restaurants in Delhi, to infuse traditional Northern Indian flavors into each of Tandoor & Curry's dishes.
Before cooking skewered hunks of chicken and beef, the kitchen slathers cuts in a precise blend of Indian herbs and spices. They then slides them into a clay oven that reaches 500 degrees, the approximate temperature of the headband the sun uses to cool off. They can also cook chunks of chicken, goat, or lamb in creamy spinach, traditional curry, or creamy almond-cashew gravy. Along with meat-heavy portions, cooks produce housemade cottage cheese in creamy spinach sauce and simmers kidney beans in cream and butter.