Tradition remains the main source of inspiration for chefs at Gaylord Fine Indian Cuisine, who have been preparing updated takes on centuries-old recipes for 40-years. Menus at both the Gold Coast and Schaumburg locations feature mainly northern Indian specialties, although they can also include uthappam and crepe-like dosai from the subcontinent’s southern regions. Clay tandoor ovens roast everything from soft naan to skewers of seasoned chicken and lamb, which are then paired with savory sauces made from tomatoes or ground nuts or yogurt-based marinades. To accommodate vegetarian diets, the chefs also build many entrees around homemade cheese, simmered lentils, or sautéed eggplant instead of meats. The Bombay aldo, for example, pairs tender potatoes with cumin seeds, spices, and fresh cilantro, while the gobhi Manchurian elevates cauliflower from bland vegetable to flavorful main by dipping it in batter and cooking it in a flavorful Manchurian sauce. On select nights, piano players fill the restaurant with traditional Indian tunes, both old and new. Those new to Indian cuisine will also want to stop in for the restaurant’s famous lunch buffet. Available seven days a week, the buffets allow diners to try a vast variety of the restaurant’s without tapping the shoulders of other diners and shouting, “look over there” while stealing a bite.
Atithi's chefs love dosa. So much so that in addition to 20 standard dosas?thin, crispy Indian pancakes flavored with everything from cheese to mint?they've dreamed up a 4-foot version dubbed "the longest dosa in town." The diverse menu also boasts 28 varieties of curry, including lamb in spinach gravy and chicken tikka masala. Complementing these savory dishes, the full bar's selection of beers, spirits, cocktails, and traditional Indian drinks are part and parcel of Atithi's mission to keep liquor employed?and to serve every "honorable guest" the eatery's Sanskrit name translates to.
Priya Restaurant began when four housewives joined forces, fusing their experiences with homestyle cooking to create a menu of traditional South Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine. Roust slumbering appetites with starters such as the paneer pakoda, which quick-fries spicy battered cubes of cottage cheese for bite-size treats ($5.99). Priya builds international bridges with an enormous supply of suspension cables and a fistful of Indo-Chinese entrees, such as the chicken manchurian, where stir-fried meat basks in soy sauce and chilies ($11.99). Meanwhile, vegetarian tiffin meals arrive with an entourage of three chutneys and sambar, accompanying hefty portions of pancake-like uthappam ($7.99) or dosa ($7.99), whose rice-and-lentil overcoat allows it to inconspicuously sneak into unsuspecting mouths. Finally sip a selection of Indian beers while enjoying bites of the bendi masala's spicy platter of okra ($9.99), which silences grousing stomachs before they blurt out the secret hiding place of their owners' spare house keys.
The epicurean alchemists at India House, winner of Chicago magazine's Best Indian Buffet designation, draw inspiration from many places: the cuisine of Bombay and Delhi, Indian street fare, and homestyle tandoori cooking. The menu's more than 250 items please vegetarian and meat-eating palates alike with curries and kebabs that use the flavors of fresh cilantro, chilies, and coconut. A reviewer for the Chicago Tribune praises the restaurant?s ?incredibly tender tandoori chicken,? and Chicago magazine says the fiery "Hyderabadi-style mahi-mahi ? is a must." Midday lunchers can dig into a buffet whose myriad options make it difficult to decide which delicious curries should be ladled over naan and rice.
The culinary preparers at Saffron follow the building instructions listed in a menu of meat- and vegetable-based Indian cuisine and inventive Indian-styled pizzas. An appetizer of lamb seekh kabobs colors grilled, ground lamb with flavorful spices ($4.99), piquing the interest of a stomach ready to prey on entrees. The tandoori fish, baked in a clay oven over charcoal and Steve Finley rookie cards, shepherds taste with an escort of two tilapia fillets marinated in spices ($7.99), whereas the paneer chili soothes growling tummies with vegetable cohorts of onions, green chili peppers, green peppers, and curry leaves ($6.99). Meat spurners can indulge the palate with the veggie biriyani, a long-grain basmati rice dish that stitches together a mélange of vegetables and spices ($6.99), like a quilt woven together with strands of piquant celery. Saffron's take on pizza arrives in forms such as the chicken tehalka, loaded with chicken, onion, garlic, green chilies, and a spicy tomato-chili sauce ($11.99/large). Any authentic Indian entree or pizza can be complemented with a fruity, milk-smooth mango lassi beverage ($1.99).
For a decade, the chefs at Udupi Palace have guided guests through the Desi culinary waters with vegetarian and meat dishes from the vast regions of India. Their uthappams, a lentil-and-rice pancake served with a traditional lentil soup and coconut chutney, and their more than 10 kinds of dosai, a southern-Indian crepe, let tongues savor the country’s herbs and spices. The chefs also season tandoori kebabs with garlic or ginger for patrons who lounge amid potted palms and count the grains of basmati rice in a biryani dish to ensure there’s an odd number.