Growing up, Chakra Café’s owner Monisha lived two different lives. At school, she was known by her given name and spent lunch hours twirling spaghetti on a fork. But at home, Monisha’s Bengali parents only referred to her by her nickname, Hashi–or laughter–and mealtimes meant scooping up lamb curry with a piece of luchi. The duality of Monisha’s two worlds–and the food she was exposed to–left a lasting impression and is the driving force behind the Café’s menu.
Inside Chakra Café’s kitchen, chefs marry Indian flavors with culinary traditions from around the world, using recipes adapted from Monisha’s mother, according to a Patch.com article. Traditional Bengali dishes such as begun bhartha–roasted eggplant flavored with green mango–are served solo or stuffed inside quesadillas with smoked fontina cheese, roasted pine nuts, and raitha yogurt sauce. Other Indian staples are also Americanized, from the tandoori chicken that tops flatbread pizzas to spaghetti paired with lamb meatballs and a whisper of ghee. Each item on the menu is clearly marked as halal, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free, making it easy to decipher the dishes without meat and the ones that require each bite to be chewed 32 times.
Traditional Indian spices flavor the tandoori, curry, and rice dishes served at Masala Magic. In the kitchen, chefs marinate boneless chicken in yogurt before sliding the dish into a clay oven, simmer pieces of lamb in a creamy spice-infused sauce, and dunk homemade cheese cubes into buttery makhani sauce. During the lunchtime buffet, patrons can gather curries, veggies, and mounds of rice to pile onto their plates or pour into the motorcycle helmet they prefer to eat out of.
IndAroma's inventive chefs ferry flavors across culinary borders, regaling tongues with francophilicly enlivened Indian classics. The menu teems with curries, kebabs, naan pizzas, and succulent wraps, such as the marinated, tandoori-baked lamb kebab in cucumber sauce ($7.50), which provides the portable edibility of a laptop made of toffee. Rummage through the samosa chaat ($4.90), a treasure chest of chickpea curry, onions, mint, and spicy garlic-and-tamarind sauce or seek the comfort of boneless chicken biryani's flavorful warmth ($8.99). Petit fours and éclairs bask alongside a profusion of cakes each as sweet and unique as the fingerprint of an Oompa Loompa and served by the slice in flavors such as black forest, mango, and pistachio.
Voted Best Indian Cuisine of Hampton Roads by the readers of The Virginian Pilot, Nawab Indian Cuisine cajoles palates into contentedness with a menu sprawling with a variety of seafood, vegetable-based plates, and chicken. Guests can begin a subcontinent saunter with an appetizer of saffron lime mussels flavorfully swimming in a river of aromatic coconut broth ($8). A glass of 2006 French pinot noir ($8) augments the tomato-and-cream-sauce-slathered chicken tikka masala ($14.50), and an Argentinean chardonnay ($7) reliably sidekicks Goan shrimp curry ($17). Each of Nawab’s four locations envelops guests in a warm ambience festooned by elegant flourishes of Indian art or vibrant Technicolor paintwork. The high ceilings encapsulate visitors in an abundance of space and allow plenty of room for tall humans or dozens of babies stacked on top of each other.