Indian Restaurants in Downtown Manhattan
A Passage to India.
Indian cuisine has always enjoyed a loyal following in our town but, over the last decade or so, it's really taken off in terms of popularity. One thing is for sure; Americans do love spicy food and you'll find plenty of spices in most Indian dishes.
However, Indian Cuisine utilizes a ton of fresh veggies as well as chicken and fish. So, many of the dishes that you'll find on the menu at your local neighborhood Indian eatery are well-balanced and fairly healthy. Enjoy without guilt.
Indian cooking is also very regional in nature similar to Italian food. Southern Indian dishes differ in many aspects from what you'll eat when traveling in the northern part of the country or the coastal areas.
Here in NYC, you will be able to take an intriguing culinary journey throughout India from the Jackson Heights "Little India" community, where this flavorful cuisine first caught fire to Astoria's 30th Avenue "Restaurant Row" to the downtown Manhattan neighborhoods of Chelsea, Tribeca and Soho.
Junoon - Chelsea
In the Hindi language, Junoon means "passion". This love of Indian cuisine and culture is reflected in both the elegant, sophisticated decor of the restaurant as well as the intoxicating dishes that come out of chef Akshay Bhardwaj's' kitchen.
A treat for the senses, Junoon is the kind of establishment that transforms a mundane kind of day into something quite memorable, indeed.
Chef Akshay's' entire culinary career has been spent within the loving embrace of the Junoon family.
As a child, Akshay learned the secrets of Indian spices and food prep by the side of his mother in the family kitchen. A fire was ignited in him and, from a very young age, Akshay knew that he wanted to be a professional chef.
It was while attending the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University, that Akshay started an apprenticeship in the kitchen of Junoon under chef Adin Langille.
Eventually working his way up to lead line chef, Akshay got the chance of a lifetime and was sent to Junoon's' outpost in Dubai. During his time abroad, the ambitious young chef learned French, Italian and even Japanese culinary techniques; applying them to Indian regional cuisine.
This was to become his signature style in the kitchen at Junoon.
Upon returning to New York, Akshay was promoted to executive chef in 2016 and handed the keys to the kitchen. He did not disappoint. The chef did not miss a beat, continuing the restaurants' Michelin -starred tradition.
In October of 2017, Akshay received that coveted honor. All told, it was the seventh year in a row that Michelin had awarded Junoon a star.
Right now, Junoon is offering a Lunch Prix Fixe deal with 2 courses available for $30 and three courses for only $37. It's a great way to sample the chefs' cooking.
Appetizer selections include Litti Chonka, ( mustard seasoned root vegetables,
stuffed wheat bread and green chili chutney) and Saloni Macchi which features a nice portion of Atlantic salmon with beet raita and candy cane beets.
All main options are served with basmati rice and fresh from the oven naan bread.
Be a little adventurous and try the Lal Mas. The main ingredient of this dish is goat meat. Surprisingly, the goat is not as gamey as its' reputation would have you believe. At least not the way that chef Akshay prepares it with red chili sauce, garlic and coriander.
Fresh and vibrant is the Artichoke Mattar which consists of sunchokes, tender artichoke hearts, green peas and a tomato sauce unlike any that you have ever had before.
Dessert temptations include Mas' Rice Pudding (caramelized banana, puffed rice and candied almonds) and Kulfi Pops, a light blend of mango, paan leaf, rose petal water and saffron-cardamom.
There are even more delectable choices available should you wish to order a la carte.
The Lobster Moilee contains chunks of oh so tender lobster that are bathed in coconut milk, seasoned with turmeric and accompanied by red and ripe heirloom tomatoes.
Spicy yet also refreshing is the Ghost Chicken Murgh. You will delight in a perfectly baked chicken thigh accompanied by a pistachio puree and spaghetti squash.
The chef also offers a variety of naan bread including the Junoon Spiced naan with za'atar, paneer and Gruyere cheese.
Location and Hours
27 West 24th Street
New York, N.Y. 10010
Sunday and Monday Closed
Tuesday to Saturday 1 PM to 10 PM
Aroqa - Chelsea
Owner Monica Saxena wants everyone to feel festive and at home when they dine at Aroqa.
Monica grew up with the belief that food brings everyone closer together. From day one, her mission was to create a warm and welcoming place where people could return to, again and again, to celebrate the big and little moments in life; from anniversaries and birthdays to career milestones.
Not to mention bonding with one's friends and co-workers during happy hour.
With a seductive ambiance, intimate lighting and chic decor, the ambiance here is fantastic for date night. Delectable small plates and creative cocktails add to the overall experience at Aroqa.
The kitchen fuses authentic Indian flavors with colorful, fanciful presentations that are more than ready for their Instagram close-up.You won't be bored for even a second when you're Monica's guest, that's for sure.
By the way, the restaurant takes its' name from the traditional Indian "roka" ceremony. A "roka" is where friends and family come together to celebrate a couples' engagement.
At a "roka", the energy is electric as people celebrate the happy couple with music, laughter and, of course, great food. You'll feel this vibe from the moment that you step through the doors.
Get into the flow from the get-go with a glass of wine or one of the bars' refreshing cocktails.
The mysterious Third Eye elixir is a game-changer with its' enticing blend of Drambuie, Cherry Heering, lemon juice, egg white, and orange basil cordial and strawberry and hibiscus infused Citadelle gin.
Another big-time winner is the Season of Luck. this cocktail is made with Chamomile infused bourbon, Benedictine, Baharat syrup, Angostura bitters and Stella cider.
Small plates rule at Aroqa with offerings that range from Corn Paddu, (corn and rice fritters accompanied by a marvelous coconut lime chutney) to Paratwala Paneer which is tasty layers of Indian cheese stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.
Other Indian-style "tapas" include wild mushroom croquettes, smoked eggplant and Aloo Gobi, a flavorful blend of fresh cauliflower and potatoes with various spices. They also have a couple of dishes that feature Prawns which are totally worth looking into.
Biryani is a staple of Indian cuisine. It consists of long-grain Basmati rice that's cooked in a clay pot. You can order three versions of this dish.......vegetarian with a harvest of veggies, saffron and spices; chicken with yogurt raita and last but certainly not least, lamb with fennel and ginger.
Entree-sized menu items that will make your "new faves" list are the house Mac and cheese (cavatappi pasta, chef's unique spin on butter sauce and habanero chicken), fresh from the sea jumbo shrimp in an addictive coconut tamarind sauce and the signature Aroqa Okra special, (whole okra tossed in a very spicy blend.)
If you don't have something to celebrate then just decide to treat yourself to a couple of hours at Aroqa where you will be treated as the guest of honor at an Indian home.
Location and Hours
206 Ninth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10011
Monday to Thursday 12 PM to 9:30 PM
Friday 12 PM to 10 PM
Saturday 11 AM to 10 PM
Sunday 11 AM to 9:30 PM
Benares - Tribeca
Loved by both locals and fans of Indian cuisine from all over NYC, Benares
is a charming restaurant that specializes in dishes that are cooked in the tandoor oven, which imparts a flavor all of its' own to chicken and other meat.
Chef Dhandu Ram knows a thing or two about pleasing even the most discerning customers' taste buds. It doesn't matter whether you are a confirmed vegetarian or carnivore. He's got something on the menu that is sure to please.
Previously the co-executive chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Tulsi, Dhandus' menu is inspired by the western Indian state of Utter Pradesh, home to the breath-taking
the beautiful city of Benares. This city is known throughout India for the vegetarian dishes that originated here.
There are over twenty veggie-centric dishes on offer at Benares including the popular Kashmiri soup whose ingredients are roasted turnip, beetroot, pigeon peas, ginger, garlic and cumin. One spoonful and you won't be able to slurp it down fast enough. But, please don't; do yourself a favor and savor every morsel.
The yellow lentils with herbs bowl are also very good and surprisingly filling.
Chef Ram has one succulent delight after the other coming out of his tandoor oven including chicken that has been marinated in yogurt, spices and lemon juice; salmon tikka masala and the exceptionally delicious whole Cornish hen.
Don't sleep on the Sevai Tomato Kurma. This seafood-lovers' dream dish consists of mussels, scallops,rock shrimp and crab claws tossed in a garlic tomato sauce
over Indian-style rice noodles.
Brunch is kind of a big deal at Benares. For $39.99 you will receive two wonderful hours of unlimited Mimosas, Mango Mimosas, Beermosas, or Sangria. Plus an entree.
Selections include the chefs' indescribably delicious tandoori pizza naan, a scrumptious masala omelet, French toast done the Indian way as well as a chicken kebob platter. Make sure to order the masala fries as a side. They are unworldly.
Location and Hours
45 Murray Street
New York N.Y. 10007
Monday to Sunday 11 AM to 10:30 PM
Hampton Chutney Company - Soho
A chutney is a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables that incorporates a wide array of Indian regional spices. Chutneys are absolute game-changers when blended into entree dishes or as a side for dosas, which are large, crispy sourdough crepes. made from rice and lentils.
They even make for an out-of-the-box spread on American sandwiches like turkey, grilled chicken, tuna, or roast beef.
The founders of the Hampton Chutney Company, Gary and Isabel MacGurn, have, over the past twenty-plus years, turned the NYC Indian culinary scene upside down with their re-invention of that most traditional of Indian condiments, the chutney.
It's been an interesting journey that has taken Gary and Isabel from an Ashram in South India back home to the states and unimagined culinary success.
For those who may be wondering, an Ashram is a monastery or place of spiritual retreat where people come to practice yoga and meditation. Gary and Isabel first met while working in the kitchen of the aforementioned Ashram, where they cooked meals for people who flocked here from all over the world.
Everyone at the Ashram raved about their dosas and inventive chutneys.
Rather than just stick to the traditional potato masala filling, Gary and Isabel came up with some tasty twists and turns, stuffing their dosas with balsamic roasted onions, grilled mushrooms and goat cheese. with tomato. They were definitely ahead of their time.
Now a couple, Gary and Isabel dreamed about opening up their own dosa and chutney shop, stateside.
In 1997 that dream became a reality when the MacGurns opened the first Hampton Chutney Company in Amagansett. The duo had already achieved a loyal following, having sold their products to outlets in NYC such as Fairway, Zabar's and Balducci's.
It was only a matter of time until the MacGurns expanded, establishing a location on Prince Street in Soho, which has been humming ever since day one.
Family-friendly, the Soho location is ideal for a quick bite and they also offer reliable pick-up and delivery.
Rich and flavorful with a beguiling blend of ingredients, six different flavors are available; cilantro, mango, tomato, curry, pumpkin and peanut.
The cilantro chutney, for example, is composed of coconut, dates, chilies, ginger, lemon juice, a handful of Indian spices and just a pinch of salt.
For something really different, you can use them as a dip, so do not hesitate to experiment in your kitchen!
Besides the chutneys, the best-sellers here are the dosas and uttapams, which are basically open-faced pancakes. You'll be delighted to know that both items are gluten-free. All items are served with your choice of one chutney.
The Seasonal dosa is packed with roasted butternut squash, portobello mushrooms, arugula and Jack cheese.
Another dosa is filled with, of all things, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, arugula, onions and goat cheese.
Chicken is the main ingredient in several tempting dosas. The curry chutney dosa has grilled chicken, roasted onions and spinach. You can also order a dosa that pairs roasted peppers with chunks of chicken.
For hearty appetites take advantage of the Hampton Chutney Company's specials. For only $12.95 you can order up a veritable feast... Indian vegetable of the day over basmati rice, soup, naan bread and yogurt.
They also have a cheese dosa and soup special going on for just $9.95! Do NOT miss out!
Location and Hours
143 Grand Street
New York, N.Y. 10013
Monday to Sunday 11 AM to 7 PM