Surrounded by the bustle of the Oliver Square district, Bistro India sends tantalizing aromas of Southern Indian spices wafting out from inside its 100-year-old renovated edifice. Inside, Indian chefs whip up a variety of dishes unique to southern India's coastal region, infusing meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes with splashes of coconut milk, dashes of spicy byadgi chilies, and sprigs of curry leaves. Clay ovens bake tandoori dishes and a wide variety of flavourful naan breads, and chefs turn their attention to masalas, biryani rice, and dosa dishes. They demonstrate culinary creativity with a menu of fusion dishes, such as a tandoor-baked burger and a marinated rack of lamb.
Southern dishes pair with fine wines and specialty cocktails out in the chic dining room decorated with flowing orange tapestries, textured walls, and handsome wooden trim. An attentive serving staff bustles about the dining room, jotting down orders while taking care to note requests from diners who prefer milder spices or desire their food to be arranged in the shape of a happy face.
Monica Kapur says that her biggest challenge in opening Naanolicious was getting the 1,300-pound tandoor to fit through the restaurant's door. "We had to get a crane," she explained to Edmonton Journal writer Nick Lees. Putting in the extra effort was worth it, though, much like successfully eating an entire meal using only your elbows. That hefty clay oven is responsible for baking more than 20 flavours of naan, some of which dabble in fusion flavours that range from iced blueberry to pepperoni and mushroom.
Kapur's eatery, which offers Bollywood Night once a month and stays open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, is known for its naan, but servers wrapped in saris carry more than the fluffy bread to diners' tables. Other favourites include butter-chicken fries, fish pakoras fried in lentil batter, and vodka gol gappas—crispy shells filled with spiced or guava-laced vodka.
Inside Origin India, soft lighting cascades across crimson-colored walls and drapery. They are open late on Friday's and Saturdays until 3 a.m. and offer a lunch and dinner buffet 7 days a week. It's an intimate, yet welcoming environment, and one that invites diners to experiment with some of India's most-famous dishes. The menu is essentially divided into two halves: meaty entrees and vegetarian specialties. The former includes plates built around chicken, beef, lamb, fish, or shrimp, including curries, vindaloos, and kebabs. Vegetarian creations, meanwhile, include aloo gobi and baingan bhartha—smoked eggplant that's cooked with veggies and flavored with ginger, herbs, and spices, which is the name of Simon and Garfunkel's next hit.
At Select—the reincarnation of Edmonton landmark Cafe Select—Red Seal-accredited Chefs Nilesh Dusane and Clay Oven and cooking specialist Chef Kanchan Borhade do not skimp on creative ingredients on their locally-inspired menu. Instead, they make use of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and feature an authentic Indian menu, Sterling Silver beef, and fresh seafood. Select’s meals pair with wine, tumblers of scotch and port, or craft beers from a drink list with more choices than a Magic 8 Ball’s sweetest dreams, and end with desserts sweetened by toppings such as white chocolate shavings and a torched sugar crust.
The smells of sizzling Indian and Chinese dishes mingle as they waft out from Masala Wok's kitchen. Inside, naan rises in tandoori ovens, and meat, poultry, and seafood simmer in saucepans of curries, stir-fries, and rice dishes. Chefs eschew trans fats in favour of canola oil, and fine Asian spices help minimize the use of sodium to craft healthier dishes. During midday, a lunch buffet of eclectic menu items stretches across the dining room beneath Asian artwork and walls the deep red of a fire truck wandering out of the wrong restroom.
Decorated with white linens and elegant statues, Haweli's transplants India's varied, spicy dishes to an eatery emulating the opulence of a haweli —a place where ancient Indian royalty met to indulge in fine dining. In each kitchen, native Indian chefs fuse the rich spices and flavours of North Indian cuisine into authentic curries, rice-based biryanis, and clay-oven-baked tandoori entrees. They also have a Classical Musical Night that occurs every Saturday starting at 6:30pm.