Masala Art's dinner menu brings the culinary traditions of India to the mouths of Bostonians with an expansive selection of vegetarian, seafood, lamb, chicken, and tandoori barbecue dishes from all across the subcontinent. Appetizers such as tandoori chicken tacos ($8) showcase Masala's contemporary influences, and traditional, freshly baked breads, including keema naan, bread filled with seasoned ground lamb ($4.50), provide authentic companionship for lonely entrees.
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.
Green Chili's family of flavor aficionados melds more than 49 years of culinary know-how and worldwide travel with international influences to populate an extensive menu of classic Indian and American entrees. Diners can sample an assortment of traditional Indian dishes, including mint-tinged chicken tikka ($6.99) tucked neatly into a spinach, white, or wheat wrap. Shrimp curry ($10.50) zings taste buds with zesty spices and socially relevant one-liners, and a sky-high veggie sandwich ($6.50) buttresses layers of onion, sautéed potatoes, and cilantro between thick slices of bread. To quell crack-of-dawn cravings, Green Chili whips up breakfast items throughout the day, as well as fluffy Indian pancakes ($4.99–$7.99), served with spicy lentil and cool coconut dip. The savory smorgasbord also includes American entrees, such as the Corporate Dog ($3.15–$6.25), a plump hot dog topped with chili, sauerkraut, and upward mobility.
Garbed in crisp white jackets, chefs in the Apna Punjab dart among pans of simmering curries and pots of bubbling biryani rice as nimbly as dancers, their faces aglow in the open flames. They fold fresh meats and seafood into a sweeping array of authentic North and South Indian dishes, from tender butter chicken to flavorful goat curry. In a fiery clay oven, the chefs bake lamb kebabs, tandoori shrimp, and naan breads stuffed with minced lamb and fresh green chilies. One of the most popular dishes—chicken tikka masala—was lauded by reporters from India New England as "distinct and rich."
To enjoy those dishes, customers perch on cushy green booths, clinking mugs of imported Indian beers. Others linger over last bites of sweet rice pudding, watching the sun set through lofty yellow-curtained windows. During lunch, 15 freshly made specialties pour forth steam at a lunch buffet, ideal for diners who need to rush back to work or hurry home to see if their long-lost childhood parakeet has at last returned.
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.