A tandoor sears the exotic cuisine compiled for Shalimar Indian Restaurant's behemoth menu, which has won the chic eatery several awards and was deemed “daunting” by Metromix Louisville. Temperatures soar to nearly 900 degrees inside the clay cooker, sending scorching waves of flavor over the tandoori mixed grill's combo of chicken, chicken tikka, lamb kebabs, shrimp, and fish. Servers balance trays of samosas, kormas, dal, and house special biryani—a classic Mughlai dish served with basmati rice—much like early Indian subpoenas. Regal chandeliers illuminate a culinary kingdom peppered with cozy booths and pristine white tablecloths. The eatery’s walls showcase eye-catching exotic artwork, and diners can imbibe a specialty cocktail beneath gently swaying suspended greenery.
Garam Masala is traditionally a mix of Indian and Pakistani seasonings. In homage to its name, the restaurant incorporates authentic spice mixtures and halal meats into its menu, earning the distinction as Seattle’s best Indian restaurant in the Best of Citysearch 2011 competition. The kitchen staffers have held onto the traditional recipes of their homeland, abstaining from serving up popular Americanized versions that call for footlong hot dogs in place of kebab skewers. These Old World flavors surface in selections such as the lamb dopiaza, draped in 21 spices, and the roster of hot-to-buttery curries. A 2009 review in Seattle Weekly praises the chefs' devotion to custom by likening the eggplant bharta dish to "a baba ghanouj dressed up to hit the Emmys."
The cuisine of India varies greatly from region to region, yet the chefs at Jewel of India are familiar with it all. They cull inspiration from every corner of the diverse nation, with the resulting menu including sundry vegetarian selections, chicken and lamb curries, tandoori fish, and baked-to-order naan, paratha, and roti breads. Diners may sample a whole swath of dishes by stopping by the lunch buffet, which is just as colorful—and even more thrilling to eat—as the framed Indian artwork lining the restaurant’s walls.
Mohammed Bhatti shares more than just a name with his son, Mohammed Arfah Bhatti—he shares his place of business. The elder Bhatti once owned his own restaurant, but sold it in favor of helping his son open and run Taste of India. Together, they oversee the creation of traditional Indian fare: curries, vindaloos, house-specialty chicken tikka masala, and homemade mango-pistachio ice cream. Their tandoor oven’s flames reach ultrahigh temperatures to cook lamb, beef, chicken, and exes’ love letters to perfection. But, despite the restaurant’s name, Indian isn’t the only fare they serve. Mediterranean-inspired dishes of Falafel, gyros, and shish kabobs fill out the dinner menu.
Where to Sit: When the weather’s nice, try to snag a spot next to the burbling fountain on the outdoor patio.
Insider Tip: There’s a separate all-organic menu, which includes wine and beer, that’s designed specifically for eco-conscious diners.
Biryani: an Indian rice dish made with fish, meat, or vegetables and saturated with spices such as saffron and turmeric.
Tikka: bite-size pieces of meat that are simmered in a fragrant, yogurt-based sauce and cooked on a skewer.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Gleaming copper bowls parade out from Mirch Masala's kitchen, bearing the colorful meats, seafood, and vegetables of both traditional and modern Indian dishes. More than a dozen different types of naan bread rise in tandoori ovens before sopping up sauces from curry, paneer, vindaloo, and masala dishes. Come lunchtime, a buffet line snakes across the dining room, beneath glimmering chandeliers and paintings of Indian songstresses and Bollywood stars doing laundry.