In 1997, Chef Muhammad Uddin took over a failing Indian eatery with dreams of turning it into something more. After closing to remodel the dining room and overhaul the menu, he threw open the doors of the new restaurant, which he renamed Bengal Tiger Cuisine of India. By 2009, it had grown such a large following that Chef Uddin moved to a bigger location with ample seating, a full bar, and space for servers to practice their plate-spinning acts on breaks.
Though the warm-colored decor and friendly service are a draw, the real key to Bengal Tiger's appeal is the food. Chef Uddin and his team rely on fresh spices and lean-cut meats to flavor recipes from across India—from the madras curry inspired by the city of Chennai to the vindaloo dish that originated in Goa. Though Bengal Tiger's menu is à la carte, servers spread out a smorgasbord of entrees during the Chef’s Special dinner buffet, which, like games in the world's least active football league, occurs on the last Sunday of every month.
If she could have one last meal "before the planet exploded into a fiery, zombie-infected, asteroid-pocked heap of space junk," Leah Sottile of The Pacific Northwest Islander has a clear preference: Swagat Indian Cuisine's malai kofta. The simple dish consists of three balls crafted from potato, carrot, cauliflower, and paneer cheese. Chef Pargat Kahlon douses these in a yellow gravy that takes nearly three hours to make—not exactly something he’d waste time on if the Earth were about to explode.
For now, at least, chef Kahlon takes his time to perfect more than 100 traditional Indian dishes besides the malai kofta. These dishes include lamb cooked in a special gravy and shrimp pan-roasted with onions and bell peppers. Kahlon’s culinary team also mixes spinach and cubes of homemade cheese into a tasty sauce and cooks chicken dusted with freshly ground spices on skewers in a tandoor oven. Along with dinner every night, Swagat hosts a daily lunch buffet, which allows guests to sample a variety of regional cuisines.
A tandoor sears the exotic cuisine compiled for Shalimar Indian Restaurant's behemoth menu, which has won the chic eatery several awards and was deemed “daunting” by Metromix Louisville. Temperatures soar to nearly 900 degrees inside the clay cooker, sending scorching waves of flavor over the tandoori mixed grill's combo of chicken, chicken tikka, lamb kebabs, shrimp, and fish. Servers balance trays of samosas, kormas, dal, and house special biryani—a classic Mughlai dish served with basmati rice—much like early Indian subpoenas. Regal chandeliers illuminate a culinary kingdom peppered with cozy booths and pristine white tablecloths. The eatery’s walls showcase eye-catching exotic artwork, and diners can imbibe a specialty cocktail beneath gently swaying suspended greenery.
Owner-operators Shefali and Nitin furbish plates with authentic Indian cuisine, mixing traditional and contemporary North Indian and Goan influences to craft unique north-Indian dishes, including rotating chef's specials. As Nitin mixes drinks behind the bar, Shefali visits each booth and table in the dining room, imbuing each visitor with an experience that feels like home with authentic tastes that sear the memory. In addition to traditional meat dishes, seafood and lamb join a sprawling selection of vegetarian and gluten-free menu options, as well as dishes from a full vegan menu that includes egg-free naan and dairy-free sitar notes.
Chefs ready the blasting heat of Mehak Indian Cuisine's clay oven for a smorgasbord of authentic Indian curries, breads, and baked meat and veggies. The tandoor's fire rages seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., searing pillowy naan, lamb boti masala, and chicken goa curry. The chef carefully balances spices and flavors to create recipes far more refined than the hastily prepared meals found in the roadrunner’s tiffins.
Inside Tip: Despite the restaurant’s sleek, upscale interior, the dress code is completely casual.
Awards and Accolades
Gulab jamun: a donut-like dessert that’s popular in South Asia. Chefs blend the dough with a milk solid similar to ricotta cheese before forming it into balls, frying it, and soaking it in a sweet syrup.
Vindaloo: a spicy Indian curry with a sweet-and-sour taste; it was originally modified from a Portuguese dish.