Inside this elegant eatery, undulating mirror segments reflect glimpses of signature kebab and kahari plates precariously stacked along the waiter's arm. Below small ceiling lights arranged like a constellation, tables are festooned with traditional clay-oven tandoori and masala dishes—but this is a small part of Noorani's ample repertoire, which ranges from Indian and Pakistani fare to a completely separate menu of traditional Chinese dishes. The staff prepares fresh fish and chicken coated in zesty sichuan, ginger soy, and orange sauces over noodles or tender rice. Guests, meanwhile, can load plates with cuisine from the 15-item daily lunch buffet and question regulars about Noorani Kabab House's live entertainment. The merriment syllabus presents comedy nights, concerts, and some guy who used a single chopstick to eat a bowl of hot-and-sour soup.
Under the trained eyes of the chefs at BanZara Restaurant, tender pieces of lamb absorb the piquant spices in lamb khorma’s coconut gravy, while marinated chicken chunks cook over a charcoal griddle before being dunked into delicious sauce for a tikka dish. The culinary team also pulls from Indo-Chinese recipes, combining eggs with flavored chicken and cooking deep-fried dumplings with traditional Indo-Chinese spices. In addition to dinners, the chefs also craft a lunch buffet of new dishes every day of the week, which diners can sample while ensconced in the eatery’s leather booths or, if they ask very nicely, straight from the chef’s ladle.
Featured as one of the Best New Dining Spots of 2010 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Lehja lays out a bountiful menu of traditional Indian dishes, sprinkled with a dash of contemporary flair, paired with a well-appointed wine list. Ignite your taste buds with the Fire Cracker chicken tikka, slathered in a ghost chili marinade and painted with haunted mango kewra ($9), and then repel culinary vampires with an order of garlic naan ($4). Lehja teases tongues with a sampling of the gastronomic masterpieces from the 28 best Indian states, including aam-anardana ka gosht––succulent lamb morsels sautéed with pomegranate seeds, mango, and scallions ($19)––and the classic chicken tikka masala––roasted chicken-breast chunks snorkeling in a sea of creamy tomato sauce ($16). Lehja's meaty menu also includes a septuplet of dishes designed for herbivores and herbivoyeurs, such as the paneer-asparagus lababdaar—a dish accented by bell peppers and a coriander-seed tomato sauce ($16)—and the dal of the day––a regional stewed-lentil delicacy ($12).
Voted Best Indian Cuisine of Hampton Roads by the readers of The Virginian Pilot, Nawab Indian Cuisine cajoles palates into contentedness with a menu sprawling with a variety of seafood, vegetable-based plates, and chicken. Guests can begin a subcontinent saunter with an appetizer of saffron lime mussels flavorfully swimming in a river of aromatic coconut broth ($8). A glass of 2006 French pinot noir ($8) augments the tomato-and-cream-sauce-slathered chicken tikka masala ($14.50), and an Argentinean chardonnay ($7) reliably sidekicks Goan shrimp curry ($17). Each of Nawab’s four locations envelops guests in a warm ambience festooned by elegant flourishes of Indian art or vibrant Technicolor paintwork. The high ceilings encapsulate visitors in an abundance of space and allow plenty of room for tall humans or dozens of babies stacked on top of each other.
The dedicated staff at Ruchee infuses its menu of fine Indian fare with fresh-ground spices made daily. Complex flavors and textures mingle like divorcees at a high-school reunion throughout the extensive bill of fare, from dishes such as a lamb vindaloo in a tangy vinegar curry ($13.95), to a chicken tikka makhani in a creamy tomato sauce ($13.95). Alternatively, opt for the chicken tikka masala, a boneless chicken barbequed and then cooked in an onion and tomato sauce ($13.95). The vegetarian Punjab-style chana masala with chickpeas and fresh tomatoes caters to herbivorous palates ($10.95), while breads, such as the multilayered lacha parata ($2.95), accompany meals after lounging in the fresh-baked splendor of Ruchee's tandoori oven.
The owner and chef of the recently renovated Royal India Express was born in Punjab—an Indian region famed for its tandoori cuisine. Now under new management, the restaurant re-creates the tastes of that region, with a particular specialization in biryani. The chef roasts marinated shrimp in a clay tandoor oven, stuffs naan with garlic, and simmers tender goat meat in creamy curry sauce. Diners can also order from the Indo-China portion of the menu, which includes entrees such as chili-spiced paneer cheese with onions and peppers. An on-site sweets shop allows customers to taste traditional Indian desserts such as doughy gulab jamun or kheer.