Best of India's name doesn't just describe its classic North Indian cuisine, it also describes its traditional Tandoor oven. The earthenware oven originated during the Moghal Empire in India's Punjab region––a region nicknamed "The Food Bowl of India" for its rich agriculture and the huge spoon that protrudes from it. Spice-rubbed Tandoori chicken and other Indian classics emanate from the oven's charcoal-heated confines, complementing an array of curries and biryanis. Speaking of curies and biryanis, each option may be prepared mild, medium, or hot, and favorites include a coconut chicken curry brimming with tender cubes of meat and a prawn biryani that features a mix of seafood, Basmati rice, cashews, and raisins.
Pieces of tender lamb quickly disappear as a chef drops them into curry sauce. Inside a pan, tiny lentils soften and plump up as they absorb the butter and spices in Elixir Restaurant & Lounge’s daal makhani dish. Elsewhere in the kitchen, chefs stuff cauliflower inside flatbread and marry rice and curried bits of vegetables in biryani entrées. Out in the dining room, guests can top off their meals with sweet desserts or complimentary hand readings by the helpful wait staff.
The most geographically and culturally authentic bites at CurriBox are lemon and mango pickles imported straight from India. But the restaurant's cooks masterfully conjure traditional Indian flavors just fine with more local fixings, which they assemble into nearly 75 dishes. A clay tandoor oven bakes all roits and naans, as well as boneless chicken, which the culinary team stirs into mildly spiced butter cream. Other entrees incorporate CurriBox's housemade ingredients, from hand-crafted cheese cooked in spiced gravy with peas to marinated lamb doused with nuts and fresh cream sauce. Besides dine-in feasts, CurriBox's cooks prepare food for takeout and even cater feasts for weddings, birthdays, or birthdays for each taste bud.
At Maharaja, food is king, echoing the Sanskrit word's royal meaning. Dishes are piled high with spices, vegetables, and meat still hot from the tandoori oven. The menu offers vegetarian, seafood, and curry entrees in the form of the chickpea-laden chana masala, the barbecued shrimp tikka masala, and the lamb curry steeped in a garlicky ginger and onion sauce. For dessert, dig into kulfi, an Indian ice cream laced with pistachios, or mango ice cream made from the rare mango ice cream fruit.
The Taj Mahal is near-universally admired. So are Indian people. And so is their food. For $15, you’ll get $35 worth of Indian fare at Navya Lounge (valid for dinner only), a downtown eatery in the Rainier Square Building where classic Indian dishes united with classic Indian dish names live happily ever after in a charming fantasyland where everyone is best friends with their stomachs. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.