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).
The founders of Annapurna Southbay chose to name their restaurant after a Sanskrit title for the goddess of the harvest, and it's easy to see why they chose that name for the Annapurna special dosa. Measuring four feet in length and spanning almost an entire table, this is just one example of the chefs' dedication to hearty, bountiful meals. Most of the menu focuses on cuisine from India's four southern states— Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, and Karnataka—uniting the coconut, tamarind, and dried red chilies that characterize so many of the region's dishes. These ingredients add their distinctive flavor and spice to orders of tandoor-roasted chicken, fiery lamb curry, and slow-cooked lentils.
Echoing the restaurant's pastoral inspiration, the dining room boasts a verdant, leaf-like wall pattern above the line of burgundy-hued booths. Blooming flowers adorn the buffet area, and stone tiles from the backyard quarry line a wall near the storefront windows.
The namesake dish at Kabob Curry of India is a feast for two that highlights most of the restaurants specialties: tandoori chicken, a choice of curry, and beef or lamb biryani—all of which represent the restaurant's devotion to northern Indian cuisine. The chefs here have specialized in that type of cooking for more than 30 years, serving an extensive menu that includes several varieties of biryani, curry, and tandoori meats. Of course, there are plentiful vegetarian entrees as well, such as baingan bharta (roasted eggplant) and saag paneer (spinach with cheese and spices), as well as a sizable selection of Indian side dishes and breads, including fresh-baked naan, sweet mango chutney, and the spicy, crispy lentil wafers known as papadum. To help temper the spicy food, Kabob Curry of India serves a selection of Indian and Californian wines, which also saves guests the embarrassment of clinking with empty glasses or, worse yet, reading glasses.
Baba Ji, the proprietor of Silverlake Juice and Tea, explores a new frontier in fusion with the food at Cowboys and Turbans—the tantalizing blend of South Asian, American, and Mexican cuisine. The menu unites antipodal parts of the globe with hearty samosas wrapped in flour tortillas instead of samosa dough, tacos filled with tandoori meats and chutneys, and pizzas made with a chewy tandoori naan crust. Towering doors of wood and iron lined with intricately carved columns reveal an open-air patio, which surrounds visitors with flickering torchlight and a canopy of multicolored cloth. Statues of animals and deities ring the courtyard, patiently waiting to ask if diners are going to finish their masala burgers, tandoori cornish hens, and aromatic vegetarian and seafood curries.
Jaipur Cuisine of India shares more than its name with the bustling city of northern India: it celebrates the region’s culinary heritage. To create its menu of authentic tandoori treats and chicken, lamb, and vegetarian dishes, the owner dutifully shops for fresh ingredients and spices himself, choosing components that are free of artificial flavoring, colors, or bionic implants. What results is a smattering of curries, vindaloo, biryani, and house-made desserts that speak to both authentic Indian tastes and the Californian palate. The soft pinks and golds of Jaipur’s décor encourage relaxation as guests munch on piquant masalas, creamy paneer, and fresh bread from its toasty clay oven.
Meticulously prepared dishes brimming with fresh ingredients greet palates at India’s Tandoori Halal Indian Restaurant, a celebrated Hawthorne eatery with a full menu of Indian cuisine. Taking its name from the clay oven often used in Indian cooking, the restaurant serves up signature morsels such as tandoori game hen and channa masala, a Punjabi-style chickpea dish laden with spices. Clay-oven-baked breads known as rotis accompany savory main courses, and desserts in the form of rice pudding add a sweet-ending note to a symphony of flavors, much as most conductors conclude orchestral pieces by distributing brownies to the audience.