Village Indian Cuisine’s traditional Indian cuisine stuffs a menu with simmering curries, fresh-baked naan, and meaty tandoori dishes. Diners start feasts off right with appetizers including lamb sholay—tender meat grilled with vinegar and salt seasoning. Naan bread accompanies entrees to the table, helpful for scooping up morsels in a plain, butter, or garlic flatbread embrace. Succulent meat dishes include lamb vindaloo, with chunks of slow-simmered boneless lamb and potatoes in spicy onion curry sauce and tandoori half chicken, marinated in spices and roasted in a traditional clay oven. Indian culinary traditions are rife with delectable vegetarian options, as well, such as aloo gobi palak—potatoes, cauliflower, and spinach in savory herbs and spices. Adventurous diners can explore the Village Special Biryani, a mix of basmati rice, lamb, goat, eggs, shrimp, and labyrinthine flavor palates. To add Indian authenticity to liquid meal elements, opt for an imported Indian beer or sample the wines from the full bar.
Friends Tanya DeSilva and Mala Rajapakse found they shared such a passion for cooking the savory flavors of their familiar Sri Lankan cuisine that they developed it into a business. Once the inspiration from Chefs Suranga Pradeep Kumanra and Vincent Dias was added, both Sigiri locations in New York and New Jersey bloomed. Each one showcases traditional dishes from the owners’ homeland woven with culinary elements from India, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Malaysia—all countries with a colonial history on the island nation. As the restaurants have taken off, they’ve helped instill in their communities the same love for the spicy, belly-warming food that originally brought Tanya and Mala together. The result of all those efforts is a diverse menu that incorporates traditional rice dishes, spicy curries, and specialties such as banana leaves stuffed with chicken, egg, and plantains. But perhaps the most popular dish at Sigiri is the kotthu roti, in which doughy pancakes and vegetables are stir-fried together. At the New York location, diners climb up a steel staircase to a “narrow dining room painted in red and yellow ochre tones and decorated with straw basket lamp covers and ceramic candle holders,” as described by NYC.com. In that intimate space, they also sip Sri Lankan fruit cordials in flavors such as passion fruit, mango, or ginger and finish their meals with desserts of caramel flan.
Unified by their love of skillfully spiced Indian cuisine, the chefs at Amiya craft distinctive menus for their two locations. The Jersey City location's menu features traditional elements such as spicy curries, homemade paneer, and tandoor-roasted lamb and lobster, as well as a selection of Indian-Chinese fusion dishes. The classics from the Parsippany location's menu are joined by creative flavors such as pomegranate-tequila shrimp and wasabi-crusted crab cakes.
Though their cuisine differs, the two spots are linked by an ultralong zipline and their upscale contemporary decor. In Jersey City, crisp white tablecloths pop against warm mango and persimmon walls, and a cushy, curvaceous booth spans two walls. Golden statuettes watch over the Parsippany dining room from small nooks in the walls, and an attached bar and lounge glows bright yellow and blue. Patrons sample cocktails and tapas plates, and on Friday nights hop up to the mic for Bollywood karaoke.
Traditional recipes meet contemporary inventiveness at Hoboken Dhaba, where seafood, chicken, lamb, goat, and veggies meet vibrant spices and house-baked breads. Tandoori dishes, which are cooked in the traditional clay oven called a tandoor, include lobster, chicken, and Afghani-style lamb. Curries include fish, chicken, and goat, whereas vegetarian and vegan dishes incorporate saffron-cheese dumplings, tandoori beans and lentils, and roasted eggplant, which sprout from egg hunts' unfound prizes.
Agras Bay Leaf's chefs craft a menu full of the expected flavor of Indian food, but they've stowed away a few surprises, as well. They work with the cuisine's signature vegetables and proteins, such as lamb and goat, by incorporating them into rice biryanis, tandoori-broiled kebabs, and thick curries. In a departure from the typical, though, they populate certain dishes with tropical ingredients seldom seen in the average American kitchen or two-car garage. The chefs enrich rice stir-fires with the flesh of the sweet, fibrous jackfruit, fill dumplings with lotus stems, and turn all sorts of fruits and vegetables into a rainbow of piquant chutneys.
Dosa Garden's menu brims with authentic Indian and Sri Lankan dishes. Begin breaking bread with a date, friend, or soft-hearted velociraptor with a meatless appetizer such as the panner pakora, a dish of deep-fried Indian cheese cubes coated in a spicy besan batter. The restaurant's namesake dosa––thin rice-and-lentil crêpes––are available plain or stuffed with a vast variety of exotic fillings. The masala dosa finds itself spun around a dollop of mildly spiced mashed potatoes, and the mysore cheese dosa smuggles spicy chutney, cheese, and potatoes inside a savory batter blanket. Once appetites have been suitably piqued, engage their undivided attention in an entree such as the lamb curry, a delicacy stewed in spices from the Chettinad region, or the sheek kebab, featuring ground and marinated chicken roasted in a tandoor clay oven.