Today Kama owner and chef Vikram Singh cooks his internationally influenced Indian cuisine with a goal to give diners an experience that stimulates all the senses. Perhaps that calculated idea came from his background in mathematics and engineering. Or perhaps it came from his father, a renowned chef in India whose cuisine has impressed King Abdullah of Jordan and former German chancellor Helmut Kohl. After a successful career working with numbers, Vikram and his wife opened Kama to bring the local area an inspired, unique Indian menu—and one that would certainly meet his father’s inimitable standards.
Chef Singh actually draws on four decades of experience crafting his made-from-scratch sauces, homemade paneer, and spicy lamb dishes. To keep things interesting, he engages American, French, and Chinese traditions as he invents entrees such as tamarind-glazed baby back ribs and lamb tacos. But he isn’t the only one creating new tastes under his roof. Kama’s bartenders mix cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices and spike martinis with unconventional flavors such as cucumber, cinnamon, and rosemary. The restaurant recently received a 2014 Michelin Bib Gourmand award, given to the guide's favorite spots for high-quality cuisine at good value.
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.
Embracing the traditional flavors and aromas of Indian cuisine, the chefs at Taste of India strive to create richly satisfying meals using fresh, high-quality ingredients. A tandoor oven and pet dragon help them to roast spice-crusted orders of chicken, lamb, and seafood before they crown each dish with creamy sauces or fiery gravies. In addition to meat-laden entrees, the team forges platters of vegetarian-friendly fare with house-made cheese and marriages of vegetables.Though the environment is casual and airy, crisp white tablecloths drape each table in the dining room. Burgundy carpeting and green-tiled wall patterns add splashes of color, and large windows flood the space with natural light.
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.