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.
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.
Chandelier lamps with domed shades float below Tandoori Village's high ceilings, casting a buttery light on tables strewn with yogurt-marinated chicken, lamb chops, and tender fish steak. These succulent tandoori dishes cure in a clay oven, then arrive at purple-accented booths beside dishes such as rice biryani and amply stuffed tandoori wraps. In the natural light from picture windows, freshly baked naan sops up veggie and fish curries in ginger, garlic, and coconut. After meals, the sugar syrup on sweet gulab jamun dumplings can cleanse the palate or disable the gas tank of a ride reluctant to stay for dessert.
There’s no shortage of things to try at Star of India. The robust menu, after all, showcases more than 60 entrees, including half a dozen curry dishes, nine tandoori specialties, and plenty of masalas in chicken, lamb, and vegetarian varieties. Beyond the traditional staples, flavorful Indian spices and tender cuts of meat and vegetables play their part in inventive chef's specialties served in Indian skillets. Dessert offerings include several exotic sweets, including kulfi, or Indian-style ice cream that dons pistachios, mango, or The Mahabharata written in syrup.