As the rabid demand for reservations to nosh on garam masala-sweetened wings and tandoori spaghetti at Silver Lake’s Pijja Palace and the ongoing popularity of dishes like chili cheese naan and chicken tikka poutine at Badmaash demonstrate, L.A. has a hunger for creative takes on the cuisine of India, Pakistan, and their Southeast Asian neighbors.
And our chefs and restaurants are meeting this craving by putting unique spins on the gastronomy of their Subcontinental heritage, embracing an exciting new era of inventiveness, and forwarding the synthesis of multiple culinary influences into and around Indian cooking, especially those from close to home and the wider Americas.
“Indian cuisine is having a renaissance, of sorts, with more concepts springing up over the past few years, introducing unique and approachable dishes that tout Indian flavors,” says Imran ‘Ali’ Mookhi, the founder and exec chef of Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen in Fullerton. “Just having a broader representation of Indian cuisine in Southern California is exciting.”
“We noticed that Angelenos are seeking more diverse options when it comes to their food, and more specifically Indian cuisine,” says Antonio Kanickaraj, director of operations at Tulsi Indian Eatery, which has three locations in L.A. “Indian cuisine can be creative and inspired. We are looking to change the landscape of the Indian food experience, and we know that our counterparts are looking to do the same. Say goodbye to your mom’s khichdi.”
So to temporarily sate your longing and fuel your late nights of trying to nab a table online at Pijja, we’ve rounded up a handful of local concepts that are putting their own twist on heartfelt, handcrafted Indian eats, from malai murgh tacos on naan tortillas and tikka masala fries in L.A. to an eye-catching Sloppy Joe/keema pav-hybrid in O.C.
Saucy Chick ~ Downtown (Sundays) and delivery online
A marriage of Indian and Mexican cuisines born of the literal marriage of Rhea and Marcel Michel—the children of Indian and Mexican parents, respectively—Saucy Chick offers whole, hand-brined, rotisserie-cooked, free-range poultry: a cumin, ginger, and caramelized onion-marinated jeera chicken and a recado