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.
Sandwiched between the Indian mainland and Tibet lies Nepal, and the chefs of Mount Everest Restaurant specialize in this nation's culinary heritage, a mash-up of Indian and Nepali cuisine. Traditional tandoori and masala dishes collide with Nepali food such as chicken momo, spiced minced meat steamed within a thin wheat-bread shell.
The expansive menu at Bombay Kabab House contains dishes to suit naan neophytes and tandoor gurus alike. Slam-dunk two samosas ($3.50) stuffed with the traditional potato and green-pea mash, or land a lamb lay-up with the keema samosas ($4.95), containing spiced minced lamb. Popular pabulums that regularly win prom-queen votes from Bombay Kabab House customers include the chicken malai kabab ($10.95), marinated in cheese cream, red vinegar, and numerous spices; and the chef's special chicken tikka masala ($12.95), roasted in a clay oven and tenderly enveloped in a cream sauce. Herbivoyeurs and veggilantes can espy on eats such as the nawartan korma ($7.95), a creamy dish with potatoes, green peas, cauliflower, green beans, cottage cheese, raisins, nuts, and carrots, also known as "celery's cooler brother."
Klay Oven presents Indian cuisine cooked via a centuries-old tradition—harnessing the flavor-trapping powers of a clay oven (tandoor) or an Indian Wok (karhai) to create healthy, low-fat sub-continental sustenance. Launch into lunching with the matar aloo samosa, a puff-pastry filled with a delectable mixture of peas, potatoes, mango seasoning, and spices ($5), or fire up feasting with the masala papadam, featuring savory lentil wafers with coriander, fresh mint, and special seasoning ($3). Tandoori-cooked offerings include jheenga bemisaal, a team of tiger prawns synchronized-swimming in yogurt, ginger, and spices, and banded together by a buttery garlic paste ($26), while a convoy of karhai-cooked, stir-fried suppers include lamb and chicken dishes. For herbivoyeurs, Klay Oven summons the powers of sky and earth to create vegetatrian plates as well.
Curry Hut's Indian and Nepalese cuisine provides an authentic, varied sampling of the region's flavorful cooking. High-minded diners happily remove their designer snorkels to taste the nepalese mo mo ($7.95), recommended by Chicago magazine, which neighbors its steamed and spiced chicken dumpling with a spicy mustard-like achar sauce. Meanwhile, spiced goat meat furnishes each plate of nepalese khasi ko masu ($11.95), and a traditional clay oven cooks the indian chicken tikka masala ($12.95).
Jagmohan Jayara’s dream of sharing his Indian culture with others through cuisine became a reality when he opened up the first India House in 1993. Since then, the restaurant has grown a following that demanded three more locations. Each one brings Chicago-area locals the spices, herbs, and vegetarian-friendly dishes that characterize Indian cuisine. The menus include lamb kebabs, tandoori chicken, or whole chickpeas cooked in traditional Punjabi masala. The chain offers dining, takeout, and a buffet alongside banquet and catering options for special celebrations including weddings, birthdays, and first cricket victories.