Spice Routes

From the October 2009 issue

Indian food encompasses so much more than chicken tikka masala. And after years of ordering from repetitive, westernized menus, I’m always heartened when I experience restaurants such as Lazeez Tava Fry, a Norcross newcomer—and one of our Best New Restaurants of 2009—that serves unusual Muslim-style dishes specifically from India’s west coast. With metro Atlanta’s Indian population estimated at nearly 80,000, it’s possible to find other fragrant and precise expressions of local cooking from each corner of the subcontinent.

But it can take some hunting. Visits to nearly forty Indian restaurants (there are many more; I was selective and I also sidestepped buffets) yielded sixteen gems serving true examples of regional flavors: voluptuous sauces and brawny meats from North India and its neighbor, Pakistan. Gentle vegetarian platters, sweet-and-spicy curries, and gingery beef stews from the western state of Gujarat. Lacy crepes, creamy lentil soups, and coconut-tinged fish and lamb courses from our wealth of South Indian restaurants. And a few tastes of pungent, hard-to-find East Indian cooking (by way of Bangladesh). —Bill Addison

Online Extra

Photos from the issue, top to bottom: Bhojanic's thali; Indian-Chinese fusion at Bamboo Garden; goat specialties at Lazeez Tava Fry

Photos by John Autry and Charlotte Fekete (Bhojanic, Lazeez Tava Fry) and Caroline Kilgore (Bamboo Garden)