Chef Kausik Roy didn't invent his signature dish after attending culinary school, nor did he do it while he was working at some of the best restaurants in India. In fact, he was only a 9-year-old boy in Mumbai when he took one look at a plate of slimy okra and told his family he refused to eat it until it was crunchy and spicy. Someone took pity on him, sprinkled the okra in green chili, and deep-fried it. To everyone's surprise, they all loved it, and this dish, karrarri bhindi, has been a mainstay of Roy's kitchens.
At his newest restaurant, Tawa Indian Cuisine, there are two distinct dining areas: the more laid-back downstairs, where guests dig into plates of finger food and can get away with wearing mismatched socks, and the fancier, intimate space upstairs, where guests enjoy Indian fusion favorites. These include shrimp, calamari, scallops, and basmati rice flecked with saffron—the Indian version of paella—and coconut-and-pepper shrimp served with a chutney mayo.
At Chili Chicken Indian Twist, palates on a mission to explore eastern cuisines can traverse the esculent gamut of both Indian and Chinese cuisine on the extensive menu. Warm body interiors with a bowl of sweet-corn soup ($3) or lightly breaded hot and crispy shrimp with a sweet chili sauce ($7), or sate subcontinent-shaped stomachs with Indian treats such as samosas ($5), lamb tikka masala ($13), or vegetable clay-pot curry for a traditional taste of vibrant, aromatic spices ($9). Alternatively, those with stomachs hankering to venture north of the Himalayas can try double-fried tofu in a mild chili-ginger sauce ($9) or bombay szechwan fried rice with shrimp ($10). Chili Chicken Indian Twist also offers a list of domestic and imported beer ($5–$8), as well as house wines by the glass ($6.50), ideal for swigging before partaking in blindfolded slam-dunk contests.
Praised by the New York Times Thali's head chef and owner Prasad Chirnomuola quells cravings for elegant, unexpected flavors. The adventurous menu features a slew of imaginative dishes that twist traditional Indian fare and keep clingy eggplant from smothering the other ingredients with unwanted attention. Begin an edible journey by soaking baked naan ($2–$4), infused with onions, garlic, or chilies, in a bowl of mussels with Portuguese chorizo ($8–$10). Varieties of vindaloos come with a choice of fowl, fish, veggies, or lamb ($10–$24), matched by varieties of kebabs and spicy masalas. Specialty entrees show off the kitchen's creativity and ability to rip through refrigerators, with such artful delicacies as date and walnut grilled chicken breast, smothered with papaya, pineapple, and tomato salsa ($18–$22), and sea bass seared in hot tandoor spices and snuggled next to squash, lentil, and truffle basmati rice ($20–$24). Finally, cap sweet teeth with a bevy of desserts, including the shahi turkra, an Indian–style bread pudding or the prettily presented lemongrass key lime pie (house desserts are $7 each).
Paradise Biryani Pointe serves traditional Hyderabadi Nawabi dishes, an Indian culinary tradition that emphasizes slow cooking, careful and deliberate spice mixtures, and the use of direct fire. The signature dish, the hyderabadi biryani, exemplifies the style: meat and spiced basmati rice are cooked over steaming coals and together form three savory layers of food. The restaurant's kitchen also has a tandoori oven, which helps seal in the flavorful herbs and spices of meats, such as the marinated goat chops. In addition, the restaurant serves a wealth of vegetarian dishes, such as the bagara baingan—eggplant roasted in a clay oven and mixed in with tomato and onion—and gobi manchuria, a fried-cauliflower appetizer.
Mumbai Rasoi's chefs adorn authentic Indian cuisine with a flurry of exotic spices and house-made ingredients. They enlist the roasting powers of a traditional tandoor to grill chicken dishes, and swathe shrimp and lamb in spicy curries. They also construct a multitude of vegetarian-friendly entrees, uniting a rainbow of ingredients ranging from red kidney beans to black lentils to holographic rutabagas.