After earning his stripes as chef and manager of House of India, Suresh Khurana is kicking up new turf with Flavor of India, serving North Indian dishes in an elegant dining room with warm accents the colors of peaches and pomegranates. Fruity touches also pop up throughout the menu, with dried fruits enhancing portions of steaming rice biryani and citrus notes brightening the smoky flavors of tandoori chicken and shrimp. String lights around the fully stocked bar bring out the sparkles in everyone's eyes, making the restaurant a suitable place for shooting charismatic business headshots.
Chef and owner Raj left his native Punjab in 1994 to earn his culinary stripes working as a cook in New York City. After a year of training and practice, he relocated to St. Louis, where his expertise in the art of Indian cooking quickly won praise in the Riverfront Times, which dubbed his eatery the city’s best vegetarian restaurant.
Laden with meat-free options, the menu entices taste buds with spiced and nutritious ingredients such as saag paneer’s spinach and fresh cheese, aloo gobi’s cauliflower and potatoes, and chana masala’s tender garbanzo beans. Chefs also throw dairy to the wayside in many dishes, including the vegan mirchi bhajia—deep-fried anaheim peppers stuffed with potatoes and spices hot enough to peel the wallpaper off a doll’s house. A catering menu provides spreads for large groups and flash mobs that rent the on-premises banquet hall.
The native chefs at India Palace use traditional cooking methods to sizzle up a tasty array of Indian cuisine, drawing from a pantry of fresh ingredients and spices. The 11th-story dining room regales patrons with scenic views of the landscape typically reserved for window washers or wealthy passengers on low-flying UFOs. Open seven days a week, India Palace stocks a buffet for lunch before populating dinner plates at 5:30 p.m.
At Piara Tandoori King, spicy sauces cover seafood and goat dishes alongside paneer—Indian-style cheese—and other herbivorous fare. Biryani entrees are filled with saffron-infused basmati rice laced with succulent meat or vegetable pieces, and flatbreads such as aloo paratha and naan are browned in a traditional tandoori oven, rather than a newfangled chocolate fountain. An all-you-can-eat lunch buffet lets diners sample diverse Southeast Asian flavors without settling on one, and yogurt-based mango lassis and other beverages neutralize the burn of spicy dishes.
Inside the kitchen of Cafe Lazeez, cooks draw upon halal ingredients to craft traditional Pakistani dishes including tandoori chicken and naan. In the dining room, the lighted menu above the cash register hints at skewers laden with beef, which travel on red trays to tables. Working patrons look up from their projects to appreciate free WiFi or realize they’ve been typing on a dish of goat and rice the whole time.