Chai Shai is cozy and fully Wi-Fied land of spice and pakora. All the meats it serves are certified halal, and vegetarian options abound on its menu. Sample one of Chai Shai's famed homemade samosas, savory pastry pillows stuffed with ground beef, chicken, or vegetables and lightly fried to scrumptious perfection ($4.00), or go for a sandwich wrap wrapping chicken-boti, seekh-beef-kabob, or vegetarian-pakora and served with roti flat bread ($6.50). Hearty-meal hunters can set their sights on the dinner menu, which offers full entrees after 5 p.m. and features shahl chicken korma served with raitha and naan bread ($9.50). For a loose-leaf supper, sip masala chai with spiced milk and a mix of South Asian spices ($3.00).
"Swagat" originates from a Sanskrit word that means "welcome," and owner Gurdev Choong takes that hospitality to heart—especially at lunchtime. That's when Swagat's all-you-can-eat buffet beckons with multiple entrees, rice dishes, warm naan bread, samosas, and desserts of syrup-soaked gulab jamun. "This is not your average strip mall buffet joint," says Northland Lifestyle, praising even the hot cups of chai that conclude afternoon meals.
The culinary adventure doesn't conclude at the lunch break. Choong serves northern Indian cuisine during dinner hours as well, dishing up classics such as chicken tikka masala, mutter paneer with homemade cheese, and zesty curries. But "traditional" is never a synonym for "predictable." The shrimp tandoori, for example, marinates slow-broiled prawns in crisp mint for a surprising finish. For those wanting to emulate Swagat's cooking, a spice bazaar offers a safe, legal alternative to daring midnight raids on the nearest cumin silo.
The menu at Paradise India is filled with delectable delights from the Northern Indian Mughlai–style tradition, and all the dishes are freshly cooked and prepared from scratch daily. Round up a group of gastronomic globetrotters and share a traditional order of two vegetable samosas ($3.50) and one of Paradise's nine naan flatbreads, such as garlic naan ($2.95). Popular dishes include the butter chicken, a Punjab delicacy of marinated white-meat chicken in a butter-tomato sauce ($12.95) and the lamb korma (fresh-spiced lamb cooked in a cream curry, $12.95). For a vegetarian twist on tried-and-true curry, the paneer tikka masala, baked cheese in a tomato-cream curry ($10.99), crams elephant-sized flavors into an ordinary-sized dinner. Vegans can order much of the regular menu to suit their needs, and heat-seeking mouth-missiles can order the Goa coast's specialty: lamb or chicken vindaloo slow-cooked with potatoes in a fiery sauce ($12.95, shrimp vindaloo $13.95). Stay warm with the chai ($2.95, free refills) or cool your palate with the euphoric flavors of a mango lassi (mango-yogurt smoothie, $3.50).
Bombay Palace lays out a flavorful bounty of Northern Indian cuisine made with fresh and healthy ingredients. The menu reflects the diverse culinary stylings of the Indian subcontinent, from the succulent chicken tandoori ($9.99 half/$14.99 full) washed down with a brazen glass of mango lassi ($2.99) to the seductive siren song of the goa shrimp curry ($13.99) guiding lost palates toward a pool of coconut sauce. In addition to meaty temptations, Bombay Palace serves up a number of vegetarian dishes, such as creamy saag paneer ($10.99), chopped spinach with cheese, or tangy aloo gobi ($9.99), fresh cauliflower and potatoes marinated in an onion-infused, tomato-based sauce. Since each enticing dish is made ready-to-order from fresh, MSG-free ingredients, diners can rest assured that their marinated lamb shaslick ($12.99) and herby Mulligatawny soup ($2.99) will leave them satiated and satisfied and not frozen in a block of monosodium carbonite.
Moti Mahal's cooks craft an eclectic menu of Indian specialties, reminding diners that Indian cuisine is more than just curries. Here, Punjabi spices season garbanzo beans, housemade yogurt smothers boneless goat, and simmering lamb soaks up hints of ginger and garlic. They can then compliment these dishes with naan breads stuffed with cheese or garnished with mint. Of course, the chefs whip up their fair share of curries, too, including the chicken goa curry, in which they stir tender chicken into creamy coconut sauce and fresh onion.
Whether they're preparing one of these curries or a seafood delicacy, they spice dishes to individual specifications. They can make adjustments for every type of diner, from those who prefer more mild heat to those who crave a good sweat after missing their daily jog inside a volcano. After meals, guests can cool off their tongues with desserts such as housemade mango ice cream.