Indian cuisine can trace its roots back to 3000 BC when turmeric, cardamom, black pepper and mustard were harvested in India, and used in conjunction with vegetables to produce spicy and aromatic dishes. Later, invasions from Central Asia, Arabia, the Mughal empire, Persia, and others, had a deep and fundamental effect on Indian cooking. More recently, the Portuguese and British introduced foods from the New World, such as potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and chilies, as well as cooking techniques like baking. There are a great many regional variations on Indian cuisine, and Santa Monica and The Westside are blessed with a myriad of delightful options for those wishing to spice up their culinary lives with a taste from the Indian sub-continent. This week we take a look at some of the locations available to us in order to enjoy fine Indian food.Tandoor India (2622 Pico Boulevard 310.581.9964) offers fresh Northern Indian homestyle cooking with some delectable specialties, including Chicken Tikka (boneless pieces of chicken marinated overnight with special Indian spices & herbs, $8.50), Fish Tandoori (Mahi-Mahi, lightly marinated with a special blend of Indian Spices, $9.95), Chicken Makhani (chicken cooked in Tandoor, served in yogurt bone curry sauce, $8.95) as well as many vegetarian options and a great buffet lunch for only $7,95 (all you can eat!).Dhaba Cuisine of India (2104 Main Street, 310.399.9452) is a restaurant that takes pride in their fresh produce, clean sauces, and wide selection of vegetarian entrees. They offer a warm and welcoming dining room, or you can choose to relax on a warm summer evening in their garden patio, under a bougainvillea canopy. Try the Thalis (Traditional Combination Dinner served with the following: Kachumbar, dal, brown rice or basmati rice and chappati) available in vegetarian ($13,00), chicken ($15,00), lamb ($17.00), or seafood ($17.00).Jaipur Cuisine at 10916 West Pico Blvd. (310.470.4994) serves excellent dishes that are delicately flavored, fresh and aromatic. They are famous for serving one of the best Chicken Tikka Masala’s (barbequed pieces of chicken with tomato and cream sauce, $12.50) available anywhere, and also offer an extensive lunch buffet, as well as specializing in delicate desserts and ice creams. Expect a warm welcome from owner and host Beli.Akbar at 3115 Washington Blvd. (310.574.0666)in Marina del Rey takes pride in fresh ingredients and uniquely styled recipes. Although they do not have a lunch buffet, they have a special lunch menu where all the dishes are freshly made to order, so it is wise to allow a little extra time for the pleasure. The menu features a “chilli meter” that grades each dish according to the degree of spiciness. For those who like it hot the Prawn Madras (chilli HOT shrimp curry with a delicate accent of coconut, $10.95) will satisfy for sure, and diners who prefer a milder curry experience can opt for a Chicken Akbari (chicken prepared in an exotic cashew and saffron sauce, $10.95), or the Chicken Tikka Saag (diced chicken tikka prepared with spinach, $10.95).Agra Indian Kitchen at 2553 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice (310.827.0050) is one of the newest restaurants in town, but has rapidly established an enviable reputation as one of the best. This Indian restaurant has just the right mix of atmosphere and hospitality, along with authentic taste and quality spices and ingredients. They hope that once you arrive at the Agra Indian Kitchen, you will feel it was well worth the journey. They specialize in tandoori recipes, as well as regular curries. All the barbecue dishes are deeply marinated in fresh ginger and garlic, includIing bell pepper, mint, scallion, cilantro, lemon juice and yogurt, then seasoned with aromatic spices and grilled in a clay oven._Everything is made to order, so each dish is guaranteed to be fresh. Try their Tandoor Mixed Grill (an assortment of tandoori chicken, chicken tikka, lamb tikka and sheek kabab, $13.95)Pradeeps on Montana (1405 Montana, 310.393.1467) has gained a reputation for serving mouth watering regional Indian dishes with a Californian flare. Chef Pradeep takes pride in every dish he creates and invites you to enjoy the ambience of the restaurant, and the delicacy of the food. With extensive vegetarian options available, including Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower cooked with onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and curry spices, $9.50 lunch and $12.50 dinner), Tofu Tak-Tak (extra firm tofu cooked with aromatic chunky salsa curry, $9.50 lunch and $12.50 dinner), and Spicy Tofu and Cauliflower (curry infused, a unique and tasty combination, $9.50 lunch and $12.50 dinner) as well as chicken, lamb and seafood choices you are sure to be pleased at Pradeep’s.This is just a small selection of fine Indian restaurants that are available to us on The Westside, and provide examples of the best Indian food available anywhere. So go ahead and enjoy your Indian Summer (or spring, fall or winter, for that matter!)
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