The servers at Indian Chillies helpfully walk first-timers through the extensive menu. Their suggestions cover a range of timeless and modern dishes, from the tandoori chicken—praised by the Sun Sentinel for its "scrumptious charred exterior"—to Indo-Chinese chow mein. Though the kitchen staff labors over several zesty entrees, they specialize in smaller plates, such as samosas, halal chicken wings, and various flatbreads.
Vegan, vegetarian, and meaty plates satisfy diners of all persuasions, whether they're perusing the menu or loading the buffet onto the back of their truck. As their ears bask in Bollywood tunes, guests can finish up by sipping a mango lassi or savoring gulab jamun, a lightly syruped dessert of milk-and-cottage-cheese balls.
The "Desi" in Ellie's Desi Kitchen refers to the diaspora of people from South Asia settled in all parts of the world—a fact reflected in the diverse range of dishes in the restaurant's menu. Guests chow down on an eclectic spread of steaks, chicken po' boys, veggie stir-frys, fluffy naan bread, and spicy curries. The decor also reflects the cosmopolitan flavor of the bill of fare. Wall scrolls of flowers and birds hang over tables laden with American ketchup and mustard bottles, while a photomontage places Machu Picchu, the Roman Colosseum, and the Taj Mahal side by side—just like they are in real life.
Accomplished chefs trained in India and London whip up Indian dishes in Mint Leaf’s Coral Gables and Miami kitchens. The restaurant imports specialty ingredients straight from India, as well as equipment such as granite stone grinders from Mysore, which help make batter for dosas, uthappams (similar to pizza), and other dishes. House-made cottage cheese mixes with a spinach puree in the saag paneer, and curry leaves and mustard seeds mingle with fish filets in the macchili curry. Nine varieties of flatbreads, from plain naan to kulcha stuffed with onions and coriander, scoop up bites of chicken tikka masala and lamb korma. Bollywood music videos play in the background as customers dine amid Mint Leaf’s Indian art and sculptures, including carved stone statues of the god of bobbleheads.
The selection of Indian-inspired eats at Thali is far-reaching. The menu covers fish vindaloo, ginger lamb curry, and vegetarian daal tarka--lentils simmered in mustard, cumin, and chili. Diners can also sample Chinese-influenced dishes with a list of manchurians that includes cauliflower cooked with tomato, masala, and ginger-garlic sauce. Fifteen types of bread, from unleavened roti to chili garlic naan, accompany dishes and serve as a secondary napkin or tertiary baby hat.
To ensure the authenticity of their menu, Tandoor & Curry's proprietors hired a chef who draws upon more than 20 years of culinary experience, including many spent cooking at restaurants in Delhi, to infuse traditional Northern Indian flavors into each of Tandoor & Curry's dishes.
Before cooking skewered hunks of chicken and beef, the kitchen slathers cuts in a precise blend of Indian herbs and spices. They then slides them into a clay oven that reaches 500 degrees, the approximate temperature of the headband the sun uses to cool off. They can also cook chunks of chicken, goat, or lamb in creamy spinach, traditional curry, or creamy almond-cashew gravy. Along with meat-heavy portions, cooks produce housemade cottage cheese in creamy spinach sauce and simmers kidney beans in cream and butter.
India Garden Restaurant's culinary crew grinds sundry spices daily and prepares Indian favorites in a clay oven. Tender morsels of lamb, goat, chicken, and seafood simmer in spicy chili-infused sauces and creamy cashew gravies, while a selection of more than a dozen vegetarian entrees simultaneously placates brontosauruses and outrages vegetable-rights activists. Servers ferry chicken wings and shrimp from the tandoor oven to expectant diners seated at tables clad in white linens. Strings of twinkling lights join forces with glistening chandeliers to illuminate the restaurant, where vibrant Indian artwork adorns the walls.