Chef Rafi did not create Fresh Kabobs to get rich. He finds his reward in the opportunity to share authentic Indian dishes, such as tandoori chicken breast and grilled whole tilapia, with families in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Inside his kitchen, chef Rafi draws from his pantry packed with USDA-choice Angus beef, fresh vegetables, and lamb imported from New Zealand to prepare each dish to order. Seated at dark-wood tables in the brightly lit dining area, patrons split spicy curry bowls brimming with basmati rice and sip mango lassis freshly blended with yogurt and spices. The dining area's high ceilings seem to extend to the stratosphere, past the red-tiled eaves and sky-blue murals dotted with fluffy white clouds shaped like cubes of paneer.
Mined from the foothills of the Himalayas, Himalayan salt differs from typical table salt in about 80 ways. It’s the only salt to posses more than 84 minerals, which has made the 100% unprocessed seasoning gain the attention of health enthusiasts worldwide. The cooks at The Kabob Curry already knew this, though. This Indo-Pakistani eatery refuses to use anything but the pink stuff for its flavorful meals, balancing the salty zest with staples found on every spice rack in the subcontinent, including ginger, roasted garlic, and cumin.
The menu features a range of dishes as vast as the Himalayas. For starters, naan rolls wrap kebabs inside homemade flatbread, pulled fresh from the clay oven. Vegetarian options include chana masala bathed in a creamy yellow curry, and chicken, beef, or shrimp comes cooked in a spicy vindaloo gravy or the house specialty, masala. For dessert, chefs recommend the mango ice cream. Served on a salt plate, the treat mixes sweet and salty like a Valentine’s Day card written by Sam Kinison.
Kamal Palace specializes in tandoori, a kind of Indian cuisine where meats ranging from jumbo shrimp to chicken are marinated and roasted in a traditional clay oven. The eatery has nestled in the Long Beach Marina for more than three decades, complementing its tandoori offerings daily with fresh curries studded with tender morsels of seafood, chicken, lamb, or veggies. Curry bases range from coconut cream to delicately spiced tomato. Diners can mop up the delectable sauces with fluffy naan and other flatbreads, which double as a cautionary tale for rolls prone to careless jaywalking. Wines and imported beers, including Taj Mahal and Flying Horse, round out the menu and delicately counterbalance the well-spiced cuisine.
The culinary guides at Pickles Indian Cuisine wield a menu that catalogs a wealth of traditional tandoori dishes and vegetarian-friendly fare. Hone flavor-sensing devices on appetizers such as avocado papadi chat, which unites crest wafers and sweet potatoes with garbanzo beans plus tamarind and mint chutneys ($6.99). Meanwhile, the lamb vindaloo binds together a mélange of coconut, vinegar, and hot chili peppers with potatoes ($12.99) to obliterate hunger like a bulldozer clearing a forest of Styrofoam. Or pair a palak paneer—which incorporates creamed spinach with garlic, cumin, and paneer ($10.99)—with a mango, sweet, or salt lassi beverage ($4).