India Gate’s chefs immerse fresh shrimp in a spiced marinade and saturate chicken breasts with yogurt and ginger before slow-cooking the meats in a traditional tandoor clay oven. Speared lamb and minced beef pieces also spend time roasting in the oven, while nearby stoves heat pots of curry to simmering, and fluffs up rich basmati rice imported from India. The chefs can also whip up authentic dishes en masse for the restaurant's daily buffets and its banquet hall, which can host up to 250 people for a sit-down dinner or 25 people for a curry-fueled dance off.
The people behind the Bay Leaf Cafe know how to take care of guests. The founder spent 24 years operating day spas before turning to pampering palates with Indian food. The chef, too, knows something about luxury, having cooked for the ultra-upscale Taj Group of Hotels and learned to make naan soft enough to use as a pillow. This training results not in a formal dining environment, but in a welcoming spot that gives diners lots of options. A special Grab & Go menu lets them dash in for rice bowls, chapati wraps, salads, and classic Indian snacks. Those who dine in pore over an extensive selection of mesquite-baked tandoori meats, stuffed naan, vegetarian dishes, and even traditional goat and fish curries.
Woodlands Vegetarian South Indian Kitchen isn’t kidding about the “vegetarian” thing. Of the restaurant’s nearly 100 menu items, not one contains so much as a trace of meat. Instead, you’ll find South Indian specialties such as uthappam (a crisp, dosa-like pancake) and a variety of curries made with stuffed eggplant, spiced cheeses, or marinated cauliflower. Finish your meal on a sweet note by ordering an Indian dessert such as gulab jamun or by going around the table and saying six things you like about each person there.
Upon arriving to the United States from Pakistan, Muhammed Samdani could only focus on one thing: how mediocre the local Pakistani cuisine tasted. Though the engineer had started to retrain in the American school system to get his American engineering degree, he was so appalled by the food that he completely had a change of heart and decided to become a chef.
He knew he could bring the authentic flavors of his Indian heritage and Pakistani homeland to the states, so he flew back overseas to India to study under three separate chefs. He eventually mastered their recipes—including a few secret family recipes given to him by the chefs—and came back to the States.
Now at Kabob N Kurry, his dishes embody the culinary traditions of Hyderabad and Delhi, with both well-known favorites, such as chicken tikka masala, and the less familiar, such as beef do pizza—clay-oven-baked bread stuffed with chicken and spices. Some of his dishes are so complex they need to be ordered 24 hours in advance of dining times, giving the kebabs time to soak up the flavors of the clay oven or to full absorb the sweet flavors of steamed saffron.
All of the meats used are prepared in the zabiha halal method. Those abstaining from meat can indulge in a variety of vegetarian dishes or delight their inner child and eat nothing but dessert.
Borrowing recipes from northern India, Paul—chef and owner of India Grill—creates homecooked Indian cuisine that errs on the side of spicy. Of course, guests can order meals tailored to their preferred heat level, and they can do so without fear of sabotaging the rich, creamy qualities of the master chef’s made-to-order cuisine. The menu tempts feasters with tandoori-cooked chicken and lamb dishes, vegetarian masalas, and nearly 10 kinds of homemade flatbreads, including kashmir naan stuffed with raisins, cashews, and sugar, and keema naan with minced lamb. Those who can’t decide on just one dish can head to the buffet, served during both lunch and dinner, and sample a dozen or so classic dishes made with meat and without. Despite India Grill's comfortable and eloquently casual dining room flanked by bold red walls and gold accents, guest are welcome to arrange for delivery or takeout, or simply raid the chef's pantry.
India Palace's blazing tandoori ovens beget fragrant and flavorful dishes forged from authentic North and South Indian recipes. Begin near-east expeditions with a helping of crispy vegetable samosas, two deep-fried bundles filled with fragrantly seasoned potatoes and peas ($2.95). In chicken tikka ($10.95), fresh cubes of white-meat chicken bathe in a spicy yogurt sauce before relaxing in a tandoor to seal in moisture, infuse the spices, and gossip about infatuations with renegade plates of naan. Alongside succulent lamb and beef dishes, herbivorous eaters partake of a multitude of meat-free items, such as palak paneer, which mingles sautéed spinach with homemade cheese, cream, and a bounty of fragrant herbs ($9.95). Seventeen bread varieties complement and cushion saucy selections, creating a flavorful sheath for meats, curries, or high-stakes samosa fights.