Desi Tadka in New York City

Written by FE Online | Mumbai | Updated: Jul 25 2014, 23:54pm hrs
Indian cuisineIndian cuisine
From the familiar smell of its tangy spices to the tenderness of tandoor-grilled meats, Indian cuisine boasts an intensity of flavour paired with an unmatched comfort food factor. The foodies of New York City have long been tempted by Indias culinary heritage, and numerous informal curry houses, as well as more upscale establishments, can now be found across the metropolis. Here are few of our favourite Indian restaurants in NYC.

Tamarind TriBeCa

Ceiling-high windows allow light to flood into the two floors that make Tamarind TriBeCa, creating an airy and luminous atmosphere. The chefs at Tamarind are masters of Indias diverse culinary heritage, providing diners with a chance to travel across the mosaic of different traditions that populate the vast subcontinent. The tandoori ovens produce meat and fish specialities, a must-try together with the Punjabi mutton, a northern Indian dish of baby goat in a cardamom sauce.


The spice room is at the heart of this luxurious, Michelin-starred Indian eatery in the artsy Flatiron district. Bouncing across a multitude of regional traditions, the menu spans classic cooking methods like tandoor (clay oven) and handi (curry) dishes as well as tawa, sigri and patthar (respectively cast iron, open fire, and stone cooking) to offer signature flavours like the patiala shahi goat, slow-cooked in a sauce of green chillies, tomato, yoghurt and cilantro, or the Goan piri-piri shrimp, prepared with chilli sauce, avocado, and citrus salad.

Malai Marke

The stretch of East 6th St between First and Second Avenue is informally referred to as Curry Row. This little corner of New York, famed as Little India, is possibly one of the places to start a culinary exploration in the city. With drinks served in mason jars and lines of metal bowls and spice drawers decorating the rustic brick walls, Malai Marke has a light, contemporary feel that many other restaurants along the same street lack. Guests can pick from a vast menu featuring meat dishes as well as a range of vegetarian and vegan options, among which the flavours of paneer kurchan (creamy cheese with fenugreek) and bindi sasuralwali, based on okra prepared with onion and tomato, are highlights.

The MasalaWala

Located on the Lower East Side, The MasalaWala stands at the crossroads between high-end dining and an authentic Indian street food experience. Owner Roni Mazumdar brings the traditional street food from the stalls right to his tables, giving a fresh twist to the habitual idea of an Indian restaurant in New York. In a modern-style ambience, and with particular care dedicated to running an environmentally friendly business, The MasalaWalas list of Indian classic mains is accompanied by a range of street-side bites, chaats, and kati rolls. A signature Manchurian appetiser made of cauliflower florets prepared with ginger, garlic and mixed spices is an absolute favourite.


Opened in 2005, Devi welcomes diners into the soft light of its multicoloured lamps hanging from the ceiling. With a widely acclaimed menu featuring six-course vegetarian and non-vegetarian chefs tasting menus, Devi explores the tastes of the Indian continent by fusing traditional classics with regional specialities. Tandoor grilled lamb chops accompanied by pear chutney and mashed potatoes stand out on the la carte menu alongside regional dishes like the Goan shrimp curry and the Manchurian cauliflower, in a full-bodied and delectable feast.

Brick Lane Curry House

The idea that inspired the opening of Brick Lane Curry House was the recreation of a British-style Indian cuisine typical of curry houses in the UK. With five branches now spread across New York and New Jersey, the concept can certainly be deemed a successful enterprise. Just like its sister restaurants, Brick Lane Curry House Downtown, located on the stretch of East 6th known as Curry Row, gravitates around curries arranged on the menu according to their degree of spiciness: flaming vindaloos, hot madras, and tangy bhuna follow mild tikka masalas and kormas on the menu, all available with meat, fish, cheese or vegetables. Adventurous spirits are dared to take on the phaal challenge: consuming this excruciatingly hot curry will reward brave souls with a free chilled beer and the prestigious Phaal Curry Monster certificate.

Chote Nawab

Named after a 1960s Indian film, Chote Nawab translates as little prince and is partially based around the cooking style of the old Nawab kitchens in the city of Lucknow, in Uttar Pradesh. Kebabs are among the specialties this town is known for, and Chote Nawab offers many palatable choices, tunde ka kebab standing out as a deliciously tender lamb patty dish. Other influences that converge to shape the menu at this Lexington Ave eatery are biryanis from Hyderabad, cooked in sealed pots according to traditional recipes, and other plates from the states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.


Opened in 1998, this restaurant offers a range of different regional culinary traditions in India, with a strong focus on those from the southern states, blending the traditional flavours of its cuisine with the modern style of its ambience. A selection of soups, vegetarian and non vegetarian starters, and dosas (Indian crepes) compliment the array of tandoor dishes, chicken, lamb, goat, shrimp, vegetarian, and vegan mains options. Many praise Cholas baskets of varied kebabs, while chicken chutneywala, infused with mango puree and green masala.


Dhaba is designed like a chic bazaar, lined with dayglow rolls of silk fabric, its shelves stocked with jars of Indian spices. Cashews fired up with chillies, onions, black pepper and lime are a stimulating way to begin the feast. Goa fish curry with tamarind and coconut is sublime. British expats will enjoy the "London Calling" specialties, such as lamb balti and chicken korma.

Jackson Diner

The granddaddy of the Indian lunch buffet, Jackson Diner has for decades been one of Jackson Heights' primary attractions. The steam tables are stocked with charred chicken tandoori, slightly sweet chicken chilli, tender goat curry on the bone, piles of naan, spinach, chickpeas and dal, plus a vat of rice pudding. The buffet is open seven days a week from 11:30am to 4pm. A smaller branch of Jackson Diner opened in late 2010 in Greenwich Village.