Within Anand Indian Restaurant's bustling kitchen, a team of culinary alchemists carefully blends herbs and spices for its diverse range of Indian dishes. The chefs call upon North Indian traditions to craft tandoori plates, where a special clay oven locks seasoned juices inside cuts of meat better than a mime gives directions to the highway. Meanwhile, South Indian recipes forge Uttappam, Indian-style pancakes crowned with chilis and vegetables, and dosa, thin rice crêpes bundled with savory fillings. Meanwhile, more than 20 meatless dishes offer mouthfuls of creamed lentils, house-made cheese cubes, and sweet baby carrots imbued with light spices.
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Since his cooking days at his East Hyde Park restaurant, Cumin, Chef Yajan (Yaj) Upadhyaya has been enamored with creating both traditional and new Indian dishes, as highlighted by Polly Campbell for the Cincinnati Enquirer. In his latest culinary venture, Mantra on the Hill, Chef Yaj continues to make authentic Indian food pop by pairing it with his take on other culinary elements such as spicy southern plates and Indochinese dishes. And the Indian cuisine itself derives not from one region of the subcontinent, but many. This melding of old and new, East and West, means during lunch and dinner hours, the head chef seasons chicken and shrimp with traditional Indian spices before baking fresh in the kitchen’s tandoor, which also cooks several vegetarian meals and fresh naan described as "buttery and very pleasant” by CityBeat.
To attract a crowd after most children have gone to bed and most children on the other side of the world have woken up, Chef Yaj also curates a late-night menu. With it, he showcases the same ability to unify disparate inspirations, from masala fries topped with a curry sauce to lamb sliders. And it’s not just food that might draw diners in at the end of a long day—10 signature cocktails quell thirst, and the name of one of them, the New Old Fashioned, perfectly characterizes the restaurant’s theme as a whole. Of course, the staff also pours domestic and imported beer and enough wine to float a cruise ship.
Mantra on the Hill’s decor is as elegant as the food is flavorful. Exposed brick and tan-colored walls create a neutral backdrop to the vibrant artwork displayed on them. On the outdoor patio, string light-festooned trees wrap around umbrella-covered tables—where guests enjoy their meals while listening to live music—and a light-green picket fence provides a winsome bookend to the pastel pink brick that defines the façade of the building.
When Bhopal native Rip Sidhu came to the states as a 25-year-old college student, he was sorely disappointed by the Indian food he found, according to a profile in Cincinnati Magazine. Before long, he was on the phone with his mother, learning how to make himself a proper curry. Although he started out as a software engineer, Rip soon decided to get out from behind a computer screen and into the food business. After a stint in a food court in Lexington, he and his wife Baljit opened the current incarnation of Bombay Brazier in 2010.
Resolving that this restaurant wouldn’t be just another generic Indian eatery, Rip and his wife decided to distinguish the establishment with sophisticated decor. They covered the floors with dark wood and commissioned Sikh-history paintings from artist Kanwar Singh Dhillon to hang on the walls. Their commitment to excellence extended to the kitchen as well. Instead of turning out curries overladen with cream and butter, Rip decided his chefs would simmer made-from-scratch sauces, craft their own paneer, and chop their vegetables by hand rather than throwing them under a lawn mower and hoping for the best. Bombay Brazier’s kitchen also cooks lamb, shrimp, and beef in a 400-degree clay tandoor oven and bakes naan with spinach, onion, and chili. While enjoying this bounty, guests can sip vintages from a wine room with 4,000 bottles or sample one of the bar’s 29 varieties of single malt scotch.