Saag Paneer: Chaska GrillThis northern Indian stew is a staple of the buffet line, but we were pleasantly surprised by this fresh-made version. Creamy and green, with a distinct spinach flavor and a hint of mint, the dish was studded with chunks of rich-but-not-rubbery paneer. If you’ve gone too spicy, ask for some of the housemade raita—the yogurt-based sauce will cool you down in a hurry. 7743 Tylersville Road, West Chester, (513) 779-3900, chaskagrill.netPani Puri: Brij MohanStreet foods and snacks (chaat) are a big deal in Indian culture, and Brij Mohan has a full complement of quick bites. Our favorite is the pani puri. The puri is the crisp-fried shell, a little bigger than bite-sized, filled with chickpeas, potatoes, onions, and tamarind sauce. The pani is the “spicy water” that comes on the side. Drizzle a little inside each puri—a magnified version of putting hot sauce on an oyster cracker at Skyline—and crunch. Your mouth will say “yum.” 11259 Reading Rd., Sharonville, (513) 769-4549, brijmohansweets.comMasala Chops: Mantra on the HillYajan Upadhyaya, Mantra’s chef and owner, relishes giving Indian cuisine a modern spin. Here, lamb chops bathe in a ginger-lime marinade and are given a rub of mango powder and Herbs de Provence before being skewered and grilled in a tandoor oven. Served with a thick, tomato-rich masala sauce, they’re tender, moist, flavorful—and like nothing you’ve tried before. 934 Hatch St., Mt. Adams, (513) 621-1100, mantraonthehill.comGobi Manchurian: Amma’s KitchenIt’s not often that a vegetarian dish reminds you of meat, but this concoction of crispy fried cauliflower in a spicy tomato gravy calls to mind chicken wings. Which is why we always come back to it. Of course, it’s just one of the wonders you’ll find at Amma’s. Stop by for lunch to take advantage of the all-vegetarian buffet (which goes full-on vegan on Wednesdays). 7633 Reading Rd., Roselawn, (513) 821-2021, ammaskitchen.com
Originally published in the July 2013 issue
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