The bar’s hanging lights glow like down-turned tulips against cobalt walls. A plush corner nook invites lingering with low-slung tables and vibrant throw pillows. Peeking through the lattice of Guru Palace Cusine of India’s decorative blue dividers, patrons can catch an eyeful of the restaurant’s centerpiece, a sprawling wall mural of the Taj Mahal.
Surrounded by decor that the Phoenix New Times called “a deliberate antidote to the sameness that sometimes pervades local retail complexes,” patrons tuck into a menu of traditional Indian dishes. The paper also named Guru Palace Cusine of India Best Indian Restaurant of 2010, lauding foods baked in a traditional tandoori oven and a wide range of vegetarian options. The chefs at the eatery specialize in Mughlai cooking, and the dining room’s burgundy tablecloths crowd daily with fish and lamb entrees infused with ginger, cumin, and red chili. Warm], baked naan breads and samosas sop up sauce, and bottles of wine can raise spirits after the realization that a vehicle’s owner’s manual says nothing about driving underwater.
India Oven lets its guests choose over and over again. With a full lunch and dinner buffet, diners can choose from a bounty of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. And each buffet—both cost less than $10—comes with unlimited garlic naan, tandoori chicken, Indian tea, and mango lassi, ensuring cravings are sated more efficiently than with an in-brain chef. But the buffet is just one highlight of the restaurant, as it also features a full menu. For another type of culinary variety, try the tandoori dinner, which includes chicken tikka, shish kebab, tandoori chicken, and curry accompanied by naan, rice, and chutney. For those who are somehow still hungry after all this, the restaurant also offers a selection of desserts including kulfi, an Indian-style ice cream, and gulab jamon, homemade cheese balls in scented syrup.
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.
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.
Inside Jewel of the Crown, turret-shaped wall alcoves form the shape of a honeycomb, filled with backlit statues of Indian deities. Wood accordion partitions are carved with vines and budding flowers. Since 1986, these decorative touches and the restaurant's traditional Indian dishes have attracted celebrity diners such as Kim Basinger and The Rolling Stones.
In the light of large glowing chandeliers, thick curries and yogurt-marinated kormas gleam on tables next to tandoori dishes of lamb, fish, and chicken. After sopping up the last of a vegetarian chana masala, guests can head out to the outdoor patio for a glass of wine, or peruse Jewel of the Crown's hanging tapestries, which display classical scenes of embroidered farmers playing paintball in the fields.
At each of Tandoori Times Indian Bistro’s three locations—including one nestled inside a Holiday Inn—crimson and cream walls surround tables weighed down with indian curry, rice, and tandoori dishes. While morsels of lamb, seafood, and chicken prepare for supper by bathing in aromatic indian spices, soft naan bread keeps diners entertained by diving into appetizers of mango chutney.
Patrons can let the wind sweep through their eyelashes on one of the outdoor patios or form their own sweet breezes by puffing out fruity plumes of a hookah smoke on the weekends. Belly dancers weave their way across dining rooms on select nights, which contributes to each location's traditional atmosphere and each diner's desire to enroll in belly-dancing lessons.