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.
Each steaming plate at Maharaja Fine Indian Cuisine entices diners with savory aromas and spices imported from regions throughout the subcontinent. Appetizers lay the foundation for feasts and sabotaged handbags with choices such as pepper chicken and gobi manchuria, which animates fried cauliflower with a lightning strike as well as a blend of Indian and Chinese spices. Main courses include a range of meat and vegetarian flavor posses, such as palak paneer, in which pieces of Indian cottage cheese play hide and seek among a savory spinach curry. Palates can refresh themselves with the assistance of Maharaja's desserts, which enable ample tongue-juggling with gulab jamun's lightly fried, syrup-drenched dough balls ($2.99).
In the heart of Devon Avenue’s Little India, the chefs at Masala Grill offer a different take on the subcontinent’s cuisine by tackling the rich flavors of the northern regions that border Pakistan. Guests can indulge in a cross section of the regional recipes via the buffet, which the staff constantly refreshes with just-made portions of mutton biryani, chicken tikka, palak paneer, and crispy samosas stuffed with veggies. For a more intimate setting, diners can savor table service with such options as the Masala Grill platter, which combines two chicken entrees with two types of kebabs for a better overview of the menu than the chef's pile of self-authored Cliff's Notes. Crown meals with something sweet, such as honey-drizzled gulab jamun or the creamy beverage known as falooda.
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."
The chefs at Anmol Barbecue Restaurant slice, dice, and spice vegetables and 100% halal meats to concoct their biryanis, kebabs, and myriad curry dishes. The traditional Pakistani plates gather juicy, delicately spiced cuts of mutton, beef, and organic Amish chicken.
Voted Best of Chicago 2008 by the Chicago Reader and lauded by Time Out Chicago, Uru-Swati earns praise for the carefully crafted vegetarian Indian fare served at its Devon Avenue storefront. Blue walls and painted cityscapes look down on dishes brimming with rich sauces, while nearby clocks slink down from walls to steal bites when patrons look away. South Indian cuisine in the form of masala dosa and uttapam meets classic dishes such as chana masala and dal makhani, and garlic naan and desserts round out an extensive menu.
Mood-setting muted lighting illuminates Urban Indian Restaurant's cozy dining room as waiters ferry piquant platters of Indian cuisine to tables and leather booths. The chefs bake spicy helpings of tandoori chicken harnessing the heating power of a clay oven—a more tasty method than warming them with a hair dryer—and help diners to achieve meatless munching with sundry vegetarian dishes. Complementing the spicy cuisine, the restaurant's warm, low-lit interior embraces guests in smoldering burnt-orange walls and rich wood floors.