by Joshua M Bernstein - 90 Reviews - 13 List
When seeking out Indian restaurants in New York, diners often hit the East Village's gaudy 6th Street corridor, where hawkers entice passersby to come in for cut-rate curries. But it's a couple dozen blocks to the north, on a stretch of Lexington Avenue nicknamed Curry Hill, that you'll find some of the island's finest Indian food. From all-you-can-eat kebabs to spicy veggie vittles and paper-thin dosas, here's your cheat sheet to the best Curry Hill eats. (Photo: Tiffin Wallah's lunch buffet by JasonLam on Flickr)
Updated: September 01, 2010
During lunch, this mod vegetarian eatery offers an irresistible bargain: $6.95 buys a buffet featuring delicacies such as spicy chickpeas, lentil curry and cardamom-spiked rice, alongside plenty of spongy breads to sop up the sauce. Come dinner, steer toward the crunchy, plate-dwarfing dosas. Select one stuffed with piquant potatoes drenched in buttery ghee, paneer or the cilantro-flecked rava masala, which is packed with zesty gunpowder chilies.
For any cook worth his or her salt (or pepper), Kalustyan's is a pilgrimage to a promised land of spices--more than 1,000, counting curry powders and curiosities such as sour, wild Indian pomegranate seeds. Wandering the claustrophobic aisles can be harrowing, but the informative workers are happy to help you find the perfect spice or seasoning to make your meal sing.
Skip the so-so curries at this Punjabi standout, where the stars are the kebabs cooked in an open-fire grill known as a bhatti. Vegetarians will be pleased to feast on mushrooms stuffed with cheese curd and paneer painted with a tart, pickled marinade. As for carnivores, select yogurt-marinated chicken chunks, citrus-accented shrimp and spiced, minced lamb that's so smooth, it recalls savory ice cream. During lunch, bring a big appetite for Bhatti's all-you-can-eat chicken or veggie kebabs.
If you're a vegetarian whose meat-eating friends turn up their noses at flesh-fresh cuisine, Bhojan might change their mindset. In a hip, lounge-like setting, chefs crank out super-flavorful street eats such as crunchy chaat, deep-fried green chiles, lentil dumplings and set meals called thalis. Before leaving, stop at the front counter to buy some homemade Indian sweets to bring home.
Chinese food gets an Indian twist at this multiethnic mash-up. (The pairing has long been popular in India.) The fusion works surprisingly well in dishes such as Szechuan fried rice concocted with fragrant basmati grains and spicy chili paste; Mirch 65, a chicken appetizer flavored with curry leaves and fiery peppers; and hot-and-sour soup featuring the unlikely yet delicious union of shiitake mushrooms and spongy paneer.