The chefs at Annapurna meld a variety of authentic herbs and spices with veggie-laden entrees to craft a menu of savory Indian eats. The cheese dosa Annapurna special stuffs its pillowed crepe with a hearty blend of marinated mozzarella cheese, tomato, and cilantro ($8.95), dueling the succulent flavors of the Hyderabadi baingan ka bharta curry—fresh eggplant from the clay oven with an armful of chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and a special spice blend ($9.95). Batter-fried pieces of cauliflower bask in a garlic sauce with tomato accents in the gobi manchurian ($10.95), finishing off appetites with orders of the garlic naan ($3) or two vegetable samosas that barely manage to contain a potato-and-mixed-vegetable mélange within its crispy crusts ($4.50). A cultural immersion from "hello" to "holla back," Annapurna keeps guests cozy with a dining room TV broadcasting a range of Bollywood movies and sports.
Inspired by the authentic home cooking of specially trained chefs in India, Mayura excites lethargic taste buds with traditional South Indian dishes cooked to satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike in two separate kitchens. Delicate dosa, a crêpe made with rice and lentil, wraps itself around spinach, garlic, and potatoes in the spinach masala dosa ($6.95) and paginates itself with spiced potatoes in the paper masala dosa ($7.95). Spice seekers can ignite savory glands with the chicken tikka masala, a dish marinated in spices and roasted in a clay oven ($9.95), or the haleem—chunked, marinated meat cooked in curry sauce ($8.95). A selection of beer, wine, shakes, and lassi, a yogurt-based drink, complement Mayura's fiery cuisine and calm the contentious battle between liquid and solid foodstuffs.
Named one of the top 10 South Bay ethnic restaurants by the Daily Breeze, Al Watan has served up authentic Indian and Pakistani fare for more than 25 years. Much of the menu is cooked in a traditional clay oven, bringing intense heat to meaty specialties such as the tandoori chicken, expertly spiced to the rich orange hue of a dying sun ($6.99). Lamb, goat, and beef are also offered, cooked in a variety of regional spices and sauces. The naan, also cooked in the clay oven, includes plain ($1), garlic ($1.99), and butter ($2.25) varieties to mop up the savory leavings of the entrees. An extensive vegetable selection ensures that noncarnivores will find something to put in their bellies. Tongues stung by spice can seek succor in the cool sanctuary of the lassis or mango shakes ($2 each).
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
In an opulent, Eastern-inspired dining room that steeps in the scents of intoxicating spices, Nirvana blends classic Indian cuisine with the sophistication of Beverly Hills. Chefs call on both traditional Indian grilling methods and the excitement of new flavors to prepare an assortment of unusual dishes, ranging from unique curries and tandoori breads to whole legs of lamb marinated in Indian rum and spices. Beyond the vibrant mural and white booths of the dining room, the lounge and bar lure patrons in with the comfort of canopied beds, damask sofas, and the tranquil gaze of a giant Buddha's head. A flowing river—sealed with glass to protect feet from above and seafood escapees from below—runs along the floor and leads guests through each of the restaurant's distinct areas.
Bombay Palace lays out a flavorful bounty of Northern Indian cuisine made with fresh and healthy ingredients. The menu reflects the diverse culinary stylings of the Indian subcontinent, from the succulent chicken tandoori ($9.99 half/$14.99 full) washed down with a brazen glass of mango lassi ($2.99) to the seductive siren song of the goa shrimp curry ($13.99) guiding lost palates toward a pool of coconut sauce. In addition to meaty temptations, Bombay Palace serves up a number of vegetarian dishes, such as creamy saag paneer ($10.99), chopped spinach with cheese, or tangy aloo gobi ($9.99), fresh cauliflower and potatoes marinated in an onion-infused, tomato-based sauce. Since each enticing dish is made ready-to-order from fresh, MSG-free ingredients, diners can rest assured that their marinated lamb shaslick ($12.99) and herby Mulligatawny soup ($2.99) will leave them satiated and satisfied and not frozen in a block of monosodium carbonite.