Each linen napkin is folded in such a manner that it drapes over the edge of a drinking glass like the petals of a flower. The napkin’s soft pink hue complements Himalayan Bistro’s deep red booths and the vibrant art on the walls. The aromas of ginger, chili paste, and Himalayan peppercorns drift from the kitchen, hinting at dishes traditionally served in the streets and homes of Kathmandu and other regions of Nepal. Steamed dumplings brim with veggies like the pockets of a scarecrow on payday, and tendrils of smoke unwind from kebabs in a tandoor or over an open charcoal fire. Traditional music plays in the background, the unfamiliar scales and nearby antique statuettes completing the sensation of having traveled halfway around the world.
The husband-and-wife team that runs Shanti-Taste of India has seen more than their fair share of couples enter their restaurant’s doors on a date and return, many years later, with their children in tow. The love that the duo has put into their business since 1999 is certainly returned by their clients. More tangible proof of their popularity comes from the eatery’s 2012 award from Boston magazine for Best Indian Restaurant. The authentic food served at Shanti blends both Indian and Bangladeshi cuisines, a tastier way to learn about the world than dipping a globe in ranch dressing and trying to eat it. Boston reviewers particularly enjoyed the vegetable pakoras—which they called “deep-fried pockets of pillowy goodness”—as well as the tandoori dishes, which the kitchen staff fires in a 900-degree oven.
Tamarind Bay – Coastal Indian Kitchen may occupy an unassuming gray-brick building, but upon entering the dining room, patrons’ senses are captivated by the exotic aromas of coastal India. The air is heady with the scents of curry, ginger, and mint wafting from clay tandoor ovens, sizzling kebabs, and bubbling pots of saag paneer.
The owners call on their Indian roots—and their experience at Tamarind Bay's other venue in Harvard Square—to foster a dining experience that spotlights fresh seafood recipes from coastal cities, including Manglorean lobster simmered in South Indian spices and mahi-mahi pickled in a zesty sauce from Goa. The seasonal menu also boasts a variety of vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Scallion aloo infuses baby potatoes with cumin and curry and bhindi methi spices up okra with fenugreek and tomato sauce.
Bombay Mahal Restaurant's executive chef fuses traditional Indian flavors with contemporary twists to create a menu of truly innovative Indian fare. He harnesses the slow, steady heat of a traditional clay tandoor oven to seal in meaty juices, bake naan, and scare away thieving snowmen. The bustling kitchen whips up fresh creations such as curries, tikka masalas, and the specialty seafood masala with pan-seared scallops and shrimp. Thin, flaky crepes called dosai pay homage to southern India, and a vegetarian menu doles out dishes from the western and northern regions. The dining space emulates an exotic setting, swathed in a soft red glow that washes over exposed wooden beams and a divider carved with ornate designs, which are usually reserved for picnic tables vandalized by art students.
Every meal at New Mother India begins with a full spread. Servers fill tables with mint, onion, and mango chutneys, tamarind sauce, and hot pickle achar, all poised to accent any appetizer or entree. In the kitchen, meats chosen for their 2% or lower fat content simmer in chicken vindaloo, lamb curry, and shrimp jalfrezi, and veal kebabs roast in charcoal-fired tandoor ovens. A hearty vegetarian menu includes punjabi curry, saag paneer with spinach and housemade cheese, and rajma—a haryana dish with red kidney beans. Beer brewed specially for the restaurant, along with wines and lassis, are served in the restaurant's elegant dining room, where tall-backed booths let diners and wooly mammoths comfortably enjoy meals.
In a feature in the Boston Globe, Sher-A-Punjab co-owner Mandeep Singh claimed, "There are things on our menu you can’t find at other Indian restaurants." Contemporary adaptations such as mango chicken and naan stuffed with apricots and dates accompany more traditional plates that remain true to Singh's South-Asian roots. Tandoor-roasted chicken, housemade cheese with fresh herbs and coriander, and fragrant curries round out the restaurant's eclectic menu.
High-backed booths and dangling pendant lamps surround the dining room's horseshoe-shaped bar, pillaged from the hoof of the Trojan horse. Throughout the week, Sher-A-Punjab entertain with karaoke nights and live musical performances.