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.
At Tava Grill and Lounge, owner and chef Punita Patel infuses her seasonal menu with Indian flavors and fresh, local ingredients. The paneer fajita tacos, for instance, ooze authenticity along with housemade cilantro mint chutney that can double as smelling salts for a food-comatose date. The seafood biryani paella evokes both India and Spain with a blend of shrimp, mussels, squid, and crab in a creamy curry sauce.
A separate menu in the lounge marries the food of India and California, as the atmosphere fuses nightclub and fine-dining establishment. Beside a softly lit bar, benches and ottomans are scattered around low tables, which break up regular tables and booths without the staff having to dig trenches around each.
Using traditional ingredients, Mughal Halal Tandoori has created an extensive menu of authentic Indian entrees bursting with a variety of flavors. Send taste buds down a culinary river with a range of Indian breads, including garlic naan (stuffed with freshly diced garlic, $1.50) and aloo kulcha (paratha filled with mildly spiced mashed potatoes and peas, $2.50), before docking at curry port, which is occupied by the likes of murgh makhni (butter chicken curry, $7.95) and tala ghost (lamb curry, $8.95). In addition to specialty dishes cooked in the tandoori, Mughal Halal Tandoori serves up a variety of vegetarian options, such as the bhindi masala (mildly seasoned okra, onion, ginger, and garlic, $6.95) and the bagara baigan (Indian eggplant cooked Hydrabadi style, $6.95). Cleanse a spice-soaked palate with the mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink churned with yogurt and milk and flavored with mango ($2).
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).
In the kitchen of India House Restaurant, Chef Bassi prepares lamb biryani, chicken tikka masala, tandoori shrimp, and other Indian cuisine. Located in the heart of Buena Park, the eatery welcomes guests with lemon-yellow walls and crimson tablecloths.
The founders of Annapurna Southbay chose to name their restaurant after a Sanskrit title for the goddess of the harvest, and it's easy to see why they chose that name for the Annapurna special dosa. Measuring four feet in length and spanning almost an entire table, this is just one example of the chefs' dedication to hearty, bountiful meals. Most of the menu focuses on cuisine from India's four southern states— Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, and Karnataka—uniting the coconut, tamarind, and dried red chilies that characterize so many of the region's dishes. These ingredients add their distinctive flavor and spice to orders of tandoor-roasted chicken, fiery lamb curry, and slow-cooked lentils.
Echoing the restaurant's pastoral inspiration, the dining room boasts a verdant, leaf-like wall pattern above the line of burgundy-hued booths. Blooming flowers adorn the buffet area, and stone tiles from the backyard quarry line a wall near the storefront windows.