The Himalayas are known not just for their towering peaks, but also for the rich cultures that have grown in their shadow. The all-Himalayan culinary team at Himalayan Yak Restaurant re-creates the best dishes picked from Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Indian cuisines. Their menu is subdivided by region and organized to indicate which dishes are vegetarian, letting chefs highlight classic dishes such as spice-laden chicken chili or exotic yak tongue sautéed in garlic and ginger and served with Tibetan bhaley bread. Most of the dishes can be customized with a choice of meat—including goat and buffalo—or vegetables. A live band plays traditional Himalayan tunes as diners dig into their meals, creating an atmosphere that mimics the serenity of the highest mountain peaks or the feeling of meditating at the top of several glued-together zen gardens.
There’s no greater endorsement for a restaurant than when visiting chefs consistently find themselves drawn to its kitchen. This rings true for Seva Indian Restaurant, which was recognized by New York magazine on their list of “Where Chefs Eat Cheap.” The restaurant boasts a healthy mix of vegetarian and vegan curries, such as the clove- and black cardamom-spiced chana masala and aloo gobi matar—stir-fried cauliflower with baby green peas and potatoes. Chicken and lamb curries, as well as an assortment of nan and roti, complement the family-style dinners.
Though its name suggests an exotic location in the Himalayan foothills, Delhi Heights is just a short drive from Manhattan in Jackson Heights. A menu that focuses on traditional Indian and Indo-Chinese fusion dishes makes the short trek worth it. One of the restaurant’s signature dishes is the dahi aloo papri chat, and one bite of the textured blend of crispy potatoes, chickpeas, and tamarind sauce shows why. Chefs prepare dozens of their other entrees in a tandoori clay oven, enhancing jumbo shrimp and achari mushrooms with smoky flavor without having to cook each individually on the tip of a cigar.
Gandhi Restaurant's earthen oven prepares a variety of meat and vegetarian dishes from a menu of authentic Indian cuisine. Samosas packed full of meat and spiced with tamarind and onion chutney herald clay-baked platters containing yogurt-drizzled tandoori chicken and skewered chunks of lamb. Existing as complete meals themselves, six types of biryani pack mixed veggies, lamb, chicken, and seafood into piles of basmati rice and raisins with cucumber raita on the side. The eatery also offers naan and whole-wheat paratha to soak up extra sauces or lure a flock of pigeons into the boss?s office.
Dosa Delight's chefs prep a menu of authentic Indian dosas, samosas, and sambar with an eye for vegetarian, vegan, and kosher options. The aroma of cooking spices wafts from the kitchen into the simple dining area, where servers deliver dosas—pancakes made from rice and lentil flours and stuffed with savory or spicy filling. In a dish of vegetable uthappams, chefs sprinkle thick pancakes with carrots, peas, chilies, and tomatoes. Desserts surprise sweet teeth with unexpected ingredients, such as the gajerla's caramelized grated carrots served inside an edible jack-in-the-box.
Spicy aromas spill out of clay ovens, permeating the air around the kitchens at Namaste?a name taken from the Indian word meaning ?welcome.? Inside the kitchen, chefs fry paneer fritters to a golden brown, season entrees with curries and cumin, and mix lassis with mango. The restaurant?s catering services keep guests? bellies full at house parties or birthdays where the cake was stolen by neighborhood urchins.