Sometimes you crave a dining experience that transports you to another land. You long to venture outside your typical restaurant rotation and take a spin in bolder and spicier directions. Food adventurers, fasten your seatbelts. Get ready to journey to the exotically-spiced, yet innately comforting, cuisine of India.
Naan House – Rancho Mirage
VIDEO: One of the most well-known and loved items on any Indian food menu is Naan bread. Here, it is prepared in the traditional method at Naan House Restaurant where the dough is cooked at high temperatures in a tandoori oven.
Naan House Restaurant is owned by Nancy Aziz, and operated with her husband and son. Tucked at the far side of the shopping center housing the Rancho Mirage Regal Cinemas, it can be a bit of a challenge to find. Once you do, you will be rewarded, however, with authentic Northern Indian fare prepared by a chef who has been cooking Indian food for more than 30 years.
Nancy says the secret that sets her restaurant apart from other Indian establishments in the valley is the “flavorful food using fresh ingredients like garlic, ginger, cilantro and mint.”
House specialties are Chicken Tikka Masala, a variety of Kormas, Tandoori Chicken and the special Lamb Shank. True to its name, the Naan bread served is the reason customers return time and time again. Nancy claims the secret is in the dough, making it especially light and fluffy.
The Garlic Naan at Naan House in Rancho Mirage might just be ‘second to Naan’ in the valley.
Naan House, 72817 Dinah Shore Dr #103, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. 760-321-2266; www.naanhouseindiancuisine.com
India Oven – Cathedral City
Indian cuisine is elevated by the intimate and ornately-decorated dining space at India Oven, and the wide variety of inventive dishes are served in beautifully crafted, copper pots.
India Oven in Cathedral City claims that they offer, “A little taste of India.” Based on the expansive list of selections and authentic preparations on the menu, I would agree.
Featuring fish, shrimp, chicken, lamb and all manner of vegetarian dishes, this is the complete Indian dining experience. Sauces and preparations that venture outside the traditional such as Indian Pickle, Mango Chicken and Shrimp or Chicken Zalfrasi, offer intriguing opportunities to experience new flavor combinations for the more experienced Indian food-junkie.
India Oven, 35875 Date Palm Drive, #D-8, Cathedral City, 92234. 760-770-3918; www.India-Oven.com
Monsoon – Palm Springs
Monsoon offers traditionally and freshly prepared favorites like Tandoori Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala, and is a popular spot for lunch and dinner to sate your Indian hankerings.
Monsoon is another family-owned and operated restaurant serving up fresh and flavorful Indian favorites. They are popular for lunch, with a well-stocked buffet and also do a brisk take-out and catering business.
Meatballs, curry, tandoori, dal, vegetables, rice, salad, chutneys and sauces are all options to entice from the lunch buffet at Monsoon.
Whether you opt to dine in the casual restaurant or order ahead for pick-up, Monsoon can accommodate with friendly service and consistent quality that has made this restaurant a valley staple and earned them a loyal customer base.
Terrific take-out options like the Seek Kebab, made with ground meat and baked in a clay oven, will have you dialing in on the deliciousness at Monsoon.
Monsoon, 555 S. Sunrise Way #107, Palm Springs, 92262. 760-776-8888; www.monsoonindianrestaurant.com/
Lori Cohen-Sanford is a private/personal chef, cooking class instructor and owner of Nourishfoods Organic Meal Services www.nourishfoods.biz. Her food column, Tastes Around Town, will appear weekly on Wednesdays. Have a story idea? You can contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @nourishfoodsps.