Our guide to Indian and Indian-influenced fare
Published: July 6, 2011
Indo-Pak Restaurant 27707 Dequindre Rd. Madison Heights; 248-541-3562; indopakrestaurant.com; $: Indo-Pak is among the oldest family-owned Indian restaurants in metro Detroit, serving such authentic Indian cuisines as biryanis, kormas, kadais, makhnis and tikka masalas. Extensive vegetarian selection includes bhindi masala, baingan bharta, Punjabi pakora kadi, and malai kofta. Dine-in, carry-out and delivery service available, as well as catering.
International Mini-Cafe 111 E. Kirby, Detroit; 313-377-2555; $: Each day they offer a different soup; three Indian dishes, two of them vegetarian; a "Mideast feast" of hommous, tabouli and falafel; a veggie quesadilla; a pasta dish, such as spaghetti with chicken meatballs; nachos; three pizzas; Greek salad; and three American-style sandwiches. Desserts are Middle Eastern pastries, and you will often find crisp, fresh samosas waiting on the entrance table. Where is this gem hidden? Weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the basement of the International Institute, at Kirby and John R, just east of Woodward, near the DIA and the CCS campus. For years, it has been the best lunch deal in Detroit's mid-city area. So now you know.
Mayur Indian Cuisine 5113 S. Rochester Rd., Troy; 248-457-1914; mayurindiancuisine.com; $: We're amazed that Mayur is able to fit its entire menu on a single two-sided sheet of paper. With 22 appetizers, four soups, 18 vegetarian entrées, 12 chicken entrées, two Indo-Chinese chicken dishes, six seafood entrées, nine lamb and goat entrées, eight tandoor or kebab dishes, seven biryanis, six Indo-Chinese rice and noodle choices, 12 south Indian selections (heavy on the dosas) and 12 breads, there should be just about something for everyone. What's more, their affordable brunches offer the chance to try a little of everything, and even include carryout options for office workers on the go.
Motimahal 411 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak; 248-298-3198; motimahalroyaloak.com ; $: Ullah Abdul has 27 years experience with Northern Indian Cuisine in London, Montreal, Windsor, and metro Detroit. Hamtramck residents may remember him from the Bengal Masala Café on Conant, and his new venture retains many of the specialties he served there, with his emphasis on British preparations that can be hard to find here (such as balti). He is known for affordable prices, heaping portions, artful breads and value buffets. This new endeavor, opened just weeks ago, is worth a look.
Neehee's Indian Vegetarian Street Food 45490 Ford Rd., Canton; 734-737-9777; neehees.com; $: What a kick to discover you can get Indian street food in Michigan! We counted 96 dishes for sale at Neehee's, not counting the drinks and house-made ice creams. It's a bewildering array, incorporating street snacks from all over the subcontinent. You could just stick with the familiar samosas, dosas and pakoras, but we advise you to read the big posters around the room that describe the different dishes and their origins, and go from there. The space at Neehee's is extremely small — five uncovered tables — and unpretentious; a lot of the business is carryout; you eat out of polystyrene with plastic forks; you get your water from a yellow-and-red Igloo cooler. Somehow it's especially impressive to see huge, paper-thin dosas served under those circumstances. Don't pass up the Indo-Chinese dishes, which, a poster straightforwardly proclaims, "correspond loosely, if at all, with authentic Chinese food preparation." The $2.50 mango lassi at Neehee's is as good as anyone's, and the house-made ice creams are excellent, in such unusual flavors as fig, kesar pista (saffron pistachio), bright-yellow mango and chikoo, which uses sun-dried fruit of the sapodilla tree, shipped from India.
Priya 72 W. Maple Rd., Troy, 248-269-0100; 36600 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills; 248-615-7700; priyacuisine.com; $$: Why did Priya win our readers' poll for Best Indian last year? It has plenty of dishes from southern India, such as rice-lentil cr�pes, that are hard to find in Michigan. But it doesn't stint on the more familiar dishes from other parts of India. Another plus: Herbivores and carnivores will feel equally at home. But it's hard to pinpoint just why it's a winner. Whether you're walking into the Farmington Hills or Troy locations, the Indian-style decoration and art make guests feel as though they actually are in India. Chef Sukhdev Singh specializes in various kinds of Indian dishes, but is especially talented with northern Indian dishes. His special palak daneer and chicken tikka masala are both popular. Owner Ravi Mandava recommends the chicken Shangri-La, masala dosa and tandoori chicken. Vegetarian dishes, such as vegetable masala and navratan koorma, are also good choices. A daily lunch buffet, featuring more than 13 items, is served between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Bar, banquet rooms and dance floor are available.
Raja Rani Fine Indian Cuisine 400 S. Division St., Ann Arbor; 734-995-1545; rajarani-restaurant.com; $$: Reliable Ann Arbor stop for Indian food. Try Monday buffets (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch, 5-9:15 p.m. for dinner) to test the waters, and, if you're sold, dive into a dinner for two. Menu has Tandoori delicacies, great naan, extensive selection of chutneys and chai tea too! What's more, what may be the oldest Indian restaurant in Ann Arbor, it's housed in a lovely old Victorian house.
Rangoli Indian Cuisine 3055 E. Walton Blvd., Auburn Hills, 248-377-3800; 44631 Mound Rd., Sterling Heights; detroitrangoli.com; $$: Rangoli has a surprisingly extensive appetizer list, and adventurous diners will probably want to go beyond samosas to try a spicy dosa, chaat papdi, pav bhaji or cut mirch, banana peppers stuffed with a tangy peanut and tamarind paste, batter-fried, sliced and topped with onions and cilantro. Entrées at Rangoli come in small copper bowls. Among our favorites: nargisi aloo (a saucy, scooped-out potato stuffed with nuts, vegetables and cheese); chicken tikka masala (roasted breast meat in a thick and luscious sauce); spicy-hot chettinadu pepper chicken (fiery peppers in a coconut curry). If you're new to Indian food, there are several combination dishes you can try, or come for the lunch buffet in Auburn Hills. You can't beat the prices. Liquor license.
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