The cooks at Masala Wok specialize in flavorful, aromatic Hakka-style cuisine, blending together Indian and Chinese culinary techniques. Pan-fried dry chili chicken, Singapore-style hoisin shrimp, and golden-fried cauliflower dumplings are a few popular menu items. Patrons can order carryout or stay to eat in the casual restaurant.
Rakesh Aggarwal left India for America in 1980 and his culinary talents soon earned him permanent gigs at New York mainstays such as Club 21 and the Oak Room. It wasn’t until 1994, however, that he set the cornerstone for his very own New York mainstay, though he may not have known it at the time. Baluchi’s, which is reminiscent of Rakesh’s childhood nickname, Balu, became an instant hit both for its Zagat-rated Indian cuisine and its exotic decor. Today, Baluchi’s has expanded to five locations throughout the city and received a fair share of ink from New York magazine and the New York Times, whose writer noted that the potato cakes were “among the best” he had eaten. Baluchi’s in Murray Hill sticks to the traditional Indian fare that has brought this chain such widespread success. The menu alternates nicely between meat and vegetarian options, with options such as minced-lamb kebabs with mango salsa and sweet-potato chaats baked in a tandoor and tossed with spices. The tandoori menus teem with robust options such as racks of lamb and whole fish, as well as curries prepared with seafood, lamb, and vegetables that carry just enough spice and heat to melt the heart of a curmudgeonly businessman.
Baluchi's chefs sweep regional and classic Indian cuisines into a comprehensive menu of hearty meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. At the heart of the kitchen, a traditional tandoor oven works overtime to bake entrees, such as a whole red snapper or lamb chops, and fresh naan and paratha breads. Meanwhile, chefs simmer seafood curries in creamy coconut milk and top off feasts with scoops of housemade ice cream flavored with mango or pistachio. Though Baluchi's offers delivery, patrons who appear at the eatery treat their senses to a feast: clusters of colorful baubles cast light on shiny hardwood benches and a bar, backdropped by vibrant paintings.
The chefs at Maurya Cuisine of India create traditional Indian dishes such as tandoori lobster tail, shrimp masala, and chili chicken. They help guests acclimate their palates to Indian food’s palette of piquant ingredients by serving spiced garlic naan and vegetable samosas that can be capped off by pistachio-mango or tutti-frutti ice cream.
Speed is one of the most important ingredients at Khyber Indian. The cooks here pride themselves on a quick turnaround, which is made possible due to their rejection of all things fancy. Disposable plates and silverware cut down on cleanup, and the dining room has no unnecessary decor, just a few casual tables. That way lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, and vegetable samosas can arrive shortly after customers walk up to the counter and place their orders. It also frees up time for the kitchen staff to try out inventive takes on the classics—such as samosas stuffed with pumpkin—and focus on every aspect of the meal. The selection of sweets is headlined by mango lassi drinks and carrot halwa (a garnished milk pudding), which makes the perfect dessert or appetizer for the rebellious at heart.
At The Curry Club—voted Long Island Press' Best Indian Restaurant of 2010—a Zagat-rated menu boasts dishes prepared by restaurateurs with culinary experience in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres. A handful of tikka masalas are studded with shrimp, salmon, chicken, or tofu, and kebabs are served on platters that sizzle and steam like volcanic Pop Rocks. More than 40 curries fall into six categories, from the West Indian–inspired vindaloo, to the richer, creamy consistency of Korma-style concoctions.