Every day, the aroma of smoky spices wafts from the imported, wood-fired tandoor ovens at Tandoori Oven’s locations. To a soundtrack of upbeat techno, reggae, and bhangra music imported from UK clubs, servers deliver plates of lamb biryani loaded with basmati rice, bell peppers, cashews, and secret spices alongside mango lassis blended with housemade yogurt. The healthful signature wrap is stuffed with chicken or lamb that’s been marinated for 24 hours in yogurt and spices and then baked in the tandoor oven and wrapped in soft naan with mint chutney and tamarind. Local athletes dine at Tandoori Oven, a sponsor of the TRIbe Triathlon Club, after workouts for meals made to order with lean meats and served in participation trophies.
With three food trucks and a brick-and-mortar locale, CurryUpNow dishes up the street fare of India with creatively presented, colorful dishes. The restaurant menu comprises traditional street fare and creative takes on classics. Chefs turn the fillings of the deconstructed samosa—a popular original dish—inside out before topping it with garbanzo-bean curry and chutney-tamarind sauce to be scooped up by four mini samosas. They craft fusion dishes, folding chicken tikka masala made with 100 percent organic white chicken into burritos, and piling two- and three-item thali platters with curried eats. The menu's offerings include vegan options, and most can be made with a choice of chicken, ground halal beef or vegetarian options: paneer—a traditional farmers' cheese—and aloo, or potatoes. The entire repertoire is medium spiced, and brave-tongued people can request it spicy, or kick it up all the way to Desi hot, which infuses dishes with ghost peppers, habanero, and volcano tears.
Bombay Garden's ties to authentic Indian cuisine run deep. Originally born in the small Indian town of Khanoor, owner Balkar Tamber grew up learning how to cook alongside his mother. That knowledge especially came in handy when he embarked on his first professional culinary foray, a roadside eatery in the Punjab region of India. Once he immigrated to the US in 1990, he brought along more than a handful of those family recipes and opened his first Bombay Garden restaurant fueled by a deep love for the rich and diverse culinary traditions of his homeland.
The menu features a selection of iconic Indian dishes from virtually every corner of India. On one page of the menu, delicate crepe-like dosas made from fermented lentil and rice flour evoke the flavors of India’s southern regions. And when it comes to northern Indian recipes, the chefs bake skewers of yogurt-marinated chicken and other meats in a traditional tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven heated by a well-trained dragon. The same blends of flavorful spices that perk up Balkar’s chicken, lamb, and seafood dishes also appear throughout the restaurant's vegetarian entrées: homemade cottage cheese and green peas meld in a spiced gravy sauce and split lentils benefit from the chefs’ one-two punch of garlic and ginger.
Kasa's natural, locally sourced ingredients craft a delicious menu of traditional bites and comfort. Kasa hand-rolls its own buttery kati rolls, served with marinated onions, chutney, and raita (yogurt) ($4.50 each, plus $1 for Unda-style with egg), and it offers filling $5 sides of lamb curry, aloo jeera (cumin-spiced potatoes), and the spicy, creamy hybrid of chicken tikka masala. Compose a full plate of savory flavors with up to two main dishes, roti bread, daal (slowly simmered lentils), rice, veggie salad, chutneys, and yogurt ($10.95). Pair it with beer or wine from a handpicked list prepared by Mark Bright, the sommelier at Saison.
Since 1992, Bombay Indian Restaurant's chefs have been perfecting their menu of traditional Indian cuisine, with their efforts earning the eatery the title of Best San Francisco County Indian Restaurant from Best of the Bay in 2009. Wafts of simmering garam masala and curry fill the air, heralding the arrival of spice-laden chicken, seafood, lamb, and vegetable dishes. An intimate seating area—with mural-filled alcoves, intricate woodwork, and candlelit tables—entices diners to eat in, and the catering and delivery services ferry meals to the front doors of homes or 12-story couch forts.
Taking its name from the majestic river that snakes across the plains of northern India, New Ganges Restaurant escorts diners on a culinary tour of the subcontinent with a diverse, all-vegetarian menu. The elegant dishes of cheesy paneer, rice-based biryani, and crispy pakora combine powerful flavors and vibrant color, exciting eyes and taste buds with an aromatic tapestry of yellows, greens, and reds akin to Candyland's decadent stoplights. Chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, and greens punctuate the menu's simmering stews and dals, and fluffy loaves of chapatti and fragrant basmati rice sop up each spice-laden sauce. Chefs cap off sumptuous feastings with spoonfuls of rich pudding or sips of sweet, creamy lassi.
The chefs at Tandoor on Haight aren’t trying to reinvent Indian cuisine. Instead, the pair of brothers stick closely to tradition when making their North Indian dishes with a splash of Pakistani flavor, using recipes handed down in their family for three generations. Inside their tandoori oven, they cook up halal meats such as tiger prawns, lamb rubbed with house spices, and spring chicken marinated in yogurt, imparting all of the dishes with a subtle smoky flavor as if they’d been sitting next to a lit birthday cake all day. Guests can scoop up the spice-laden curries with the sesame naan, and even customize dishes to their desired level of spice tolerance. Meals can be served in individual portions or family style, for groups who want to get a chance to taste a variety of dishes. And to cool the spices even further, staff serve up chilled mango lassis, a variety of Indian beers, and local Californian wines.