Sandwiched between the Indian mainland and Tibet lies Nepal, and the chefs of Mount Everest Restaurant specialize in this nation's culinary heritage, a mash-up of Indian and Nepali cuisine. Traditional tandoori and masala dishes collide with Nepali food such as chicken momo, spiced minced meat steamed within a thin wheat-bread shell.
The expansive menu at Bombay Kabab House contains dishes to suit naan neophytes and tandoor gurus alike. Slam-dunk two samosas ($3.50) stuffed with the traditional potato and green-pea mash, or land a lamb lay-up with the keema samosas ($4.95), containing spiced minced lamb. Popular pabulums that regularly win prom-queen votes from Bombay Kabab House customers include the chicken malai kabab ($10.95), marinated in cheese cream, red vinegar, and numerous spices; and the chef's special chicken tikka masala ($12.95), roasted in a clay oven and tenderly enveloped in a cream sauce. Herbivoyeurs and veggilantes can espy on eats such as the nawartan korma ($7.95), a creamy dish with potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, green beans, cottage cheese, raisins, nuts, and carrots, also known as "celery's cooler brother."
Home cooking can be hard to find when home is on an entirely different continent. But the owners of Himalayan Restaurant knew how to bring the flavors of their South Asian home to Chicago. They sought out Chef Bishnu Subedi, who relies on his 12 years of experience as well as his training in a Kathmandu culinary school. Befitting the subcontinent’s rich and diverse history, Chef Subedi designs expansive menus, which embrace the Northern Indian, Nepalese, and Asian subcultures that define the region’s cuisines.
This cultural fusion is readily apparent in dishes such as the momos: steamed Nepalese-style dumplings that are typically stuffed with minced chicken or vegetables and served by street-food vendors throughout Nepal. Northern Indian flavors completely shine through on certain dishes, including the tandoori chicken, which marinates overnight in spiced yogurt before the chefs quickly barbecue the meat inside a traditional clay tandoor oven. House-made paneer cheese and fluffy naan also evoke the flavors of South Asia; the restaurant further embraces its cultural roots by serving Indian beers and water from melted Nepalese glaciers.
Klay Oven presents Indian cuisine cooked via a centuries-old tradition—harnessing the flavor-trapping powers of a clay oven (tandoor) or an Indian Wok (karhai) to create healthy, low-fat sub-continental sustenance. Launch into lunching with the matar aloo samosa, a puff-pastry filled with a delectable mixture of peas, potatoes, mango seasoning, and spices ($5), or fire up feasting with the masala papadam, featuring savory lentil wafers with coriander, fresh mint, and special seasoning ($3). Tandoori-cooked offerings include jheenga bemisaal, a team of tiger prawns synchronized-swimming in yogurt, ginger, and spices, and banded together by a buttery garlic paste ($26), while a convoy of karhai-cooked, stir-fried suppers include lamb and chicken dishes. For herbivoyeurs, Klay Oven summons the powers of sky and earth to create vegetatrian plates as well.
More than 30 years ago, the Kamboj family helped launch Devon Avenue's Little India neighborhood with Standard India Restaurant. Its fresh North Indian cuisine attracted visitors from Madonna to Michael Jackson. Now in Lakeview, the Kamboj clan features both family-style thali dining and a buffet.
Vermilion has garnered a great deal of press and accolades over the years. From being named one of Chicago magazine’s Best New Restaurants of 2004 to gracing the pages of Esquire in an article titled "15 More Restaurants Not to Miss," the restaurant is no stranger to the spotlight. And at the heart of its success is Rohini Dey, a former consultant who, in 2003, decided to dive whisk first into the restaurant biz. Inspired by her Indian heritage, Dey set out to re-engineer the country’s traditional approach, fusing contemporary homeland flavors with elements of similarly bold Latin cuisine.
At Vermilion’s Chicago and New York City locations, the chefs craft meat and vegetarian fusions. Some of their most successful creations include the Gourmet-lauded duck-vindaloo arepas, lobster tail stewed in coconut-and-curry-leaf gravy, which was named the top dish worldwide by USA Today in 2004, and the tandoori skirt steak, hailed by Esquire. The decor mirrors the artful approach to dining, with sleek white spaces accented by black-and-white photos taken before the invention of color. Both locations also incorporate lounge areas that often come to life as fusion music, specialty cocktails, and a global wine list circulate the space.