Tandoori Grill's eclectic menu of halal and kosher delicacies guides diners on a journey through authentic Indian flavors. Vegetable samosas ($2.50) and potato-stuffed aloo naan ($2.50) kick off a palatable dinnertime parade of biryanis confettied with spices ($7–$9) and tandoori-grilled kebabs ($7.95–$9.95). Vegetarians can join in games of tabletop basketball previously reserved for meatball-eaters with the malai kofta, savory spheroids of fried vegetables in a rich curry sauce ($8.95). Weekday lunch specials focus on simple, easily scarfed classics, including a chicken kebab in a naan wrap ($4) and mutton curry with rice ($8). Any heated arguments over the last piece of naan can be cooled by a creamy mango lassi ($3).
Recipes from northern, southern, Mughlai, and other Indian culinary traditions are incorporated in the menu at Nirvana Fine Indian Cuisine. That results in a wide array of flavorful cuisine such as chicken simmered in creamy kormas, spicy vindaloos, vegetables and lamb chops skewered on kebabs, and roast-shrimp-tandoori masala. Scoop up every last morsel with any of 10 varieties of flatbread, including onion kulcha, traditional naan, and baby naan, which wakes the chef up every three hours after it is baked.
At Sizzling Bombay, the vibrant orange walls and glimmering chandeliers are nearly as bold as the spices that infuse each of the dishes leaving the kitchen and leave their stamp on diners’ tongues. Kebabs skewer pieces of chicken, shrimp, and lamb as curry clings to bite-sized morsels with the grip of a great-aunt’s cheek pinch. An Indo-Chinese menu section parades around with pad thai selections, and desserts end meals on sugary notes, filling plates with rice pudding or milk balls soaked in rose-flavored sugar syrup—instead of a heap of sugar cubes begging to be turned into a fort.
Shere-E-Punjab owner and chef Zail Singh Shergill has more than two decades of cooking experience packed into his apron. Even with all that wisdom, he still counts on those around him—family, especially—to keep the restaurant’s spread fresh and exciting. Zail’s son and Shere-E-Punjab co-founder, Pushpinder Singh, consistently concocts recipes for new dishes—an ongoing effort reflected in the lengthy and varied menu, which includes fresh naan, chicken tikka masala, and barbecue lamb kabobs cooked in the clay tandoor ovens. The restaurant also carries a selection of Indian beers, wines, and cocktails.
Executive chef and owner Bharat Luthra named his restaurant Khajuraho after a town in Madhya Pradesh, India—a town famous for a series of Hindu and Jain temples filled with erotic monuments. Like those iconic statues, the sights, smells, and tastes of Luthra’s Indian cuisine create a vivid statement in support of sensuality and the enjoyment of life. His restaurant's elegant white-clothed tables, great enough in number to seat up to 120, stage feasts fit for mild to spicy palates and carnivorous to vegetarian appetites. Luthra bakes succulent marinated chicken inside a tandoori clay oven, spikes fresh seafood with garlic and ginger, and keeps vegetable balls from rolling off the plate with a smooth cream sauce and repurposed bowling-alley bumpers.
There is more to chef Mohammad Rahman’s menu than the staples that diners have come to expect from an Indian restaurant, although crowd favorites do have reserved places. Rahman and his wife, Salma Khanam—who is the restaurant’s maitre d’—incorporate flavors from their homeland of Bangladesh, including fish fry combos and shak bhaji (made with custom-spiced spinach). Halal meats such as fish, lamb, goat, and chicken star in rich curry dishes, nicely accompanied by warm naan fresh from the tandoor oven. The eatery's lunch buffet pits stomachs against a bounty of dishes, piled high with delectables to reward diners who wore their nicest stilettos. Kitchen of India’s environment is warm and romantic, with white tablecloths serving as elegant yet neutral complements to colorful paintings and carved sculptures.
"Pretty damn incredible"—the first words that Philadelphia Weekly's Brian Freedman chose to sum up the cuisine at Tashan. Philadelphia magazine's Trey Popp was also wowed by the restaurant's unique culinary balancing act, stating that the food was " …a potential minefield, but executive chef Sylva Senat dances through it without dropping much more than a teaspoon’s worth of his 51-spice arsenal." The Haitian-born chef—who was a James Beard Award semi-finalist in 2012 and 2013 and who is beloved by area food critics and his mother—certainly does his best to help Tashan redefine Philadelphia's Indian food scene.
Drawing from extensive culinary experience—time spent in the kitchens of Trump Hotel Central Park and Buddakan—and traditional Indian cooking methods, chef Senat melds classically Indian flavors with culinary styles from around the globe. His small-plates-focused menus feature inventive takes on familiar dishes, such as organic chicken-vindaloo sausage, tandoori free-range butter chicken, and masala-dusted lobster. The food pairs well with cocktails that also incorporate Indian spices and fruits.
Though chef Senat's cuisine is the star, Tashan's decor has also garnered praise. Designed by New York-based architect and interior designer Winka Dubbeldam, the dining room surrounds visitors with tables made from hand-carved wood, as well as with statues and furnishings from India, Spain, and Mexico. Ebony wood takes on a subtle dark glow, and polished steel accents reflect the low, sensual lighting. The result is a physical space that, according to Brian Freedman, takes on an air of “crepuscular sexiness."