I don’t know about you, but I’m super excited about this post! You know me and my love for exploring new restaurants, cafes, food shacks, bakeries and juice bars and shops, and there is absolutely no shame in it. These places are great for spending time with friends, family, loved ones, or even just yourself. Heck, I go to one of these places by myself all the time–and I never fail to have a wonderful experience every time!
Anyways, I thought I’d start off with probably my number one favorite type of cuisine. If you look at my Pinterest, you’ll see that I have the biggest obsession with curry, and if you’ve seen some of my What I Eat in a Day videos and blog posts, you’ll know that I have the biggest obsession with Indian food (seriously, in one of my videos, I eat Indian food for both lunch and dinner–and I didn’t get sick of it at all!) Who can blame me? There’s so much variety, wholesome ingredients, spices, warmth, flavor, and authenticity in it.
Keeping this in mind, I’ve rounded up pretty much my absolute favorite Indian restaurants in Los Angeles for many reasons: food, price, ambiance, and service. However, because my family and I really like to play favorites, I have pretty much only scratched the surface of what Los Angeles has to offer. There are probably upon hundreds of Indian restaurants that I don’t even know of that are just as wonderful, if not more, so there might be a second part to the Indian component of my L.A. foodie guide series! Now, onward with the restaurant raves!
ROYAL DELHI PALACE ($, lunch & dinner, 4.2/5 stars)
Let me tell you that this is a college student’s DREAM. If you are all about exploring new cultures, new foods, new authentic flavors and textures, then you will absolutely fall in love with this place. One day when my school had a noon dismissal, my friend and I decided to go to lunch. I had this serious craving for Indian food and we discovered the Royal Delhi Palace in Canoga Park, which also offered a very inexpensive all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. We were amazed as to how much food we ate for a super awesome deal. Ever since, my family members and I come here when we want to stuff our faces, and we never fail at that!
There are a lot of healthy options as well as meatless options, such as their paneer curries, lentil daals, raw veggies, soups and desserts. The buffet, in particular, likes to change up a few options but does stick to the staples such as chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, biryani, tandoori, etc. Last Saturday I decided to return for brunch as a celebration for such a successful first semester of senior year, and also because I was craving Indian food as usual! When I came, I rounded up everything that I absolutely LOVED about this restaurant, plus a few items that I’ve never eaten before that I got the privilege to try! So here we go!
Round 1! EVERY time I come to this place, I never skip the chicken dishes. It’s so delicious! My favorites are the chicken tikka masala, which is so flavorful with the sauce and spices, and of course, the chili chicken with tons of onions, because you know I’m all about that spicy life. Both are absolutely incredible and you will probably come back for seconds, or thirds, or even fourths if you’re really hungry! Sometimes I have a little bit of cucumber and tomatoes on the side to keep things fresh!
Next we have the cheese dishes! You’re probably thinking—WHOA, cheese, isn’t that the stuff that you’re lactose intolerant to? Well, this ain’t no ordinary cheese: Indian cuisine cooks with a special type of cheese called paneer. Paneer contains a very small to moderate amount of lactose, but it is boasted as a great source of protein and calcium while having less cholesterol and saturated fat than your average cheese. What’s great about it is that it contains a large amount of conjugated lineolic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that aids in weight loss, fat loss and muscle growth by increasing the metabolism and decreasing insulin! I eat it because it tastes like a Mozzarella-esque tofu. Tofu and cheese in one sounds the best, doesn’t it?
Every time I come to this place, saag paneer is always served, or paneer cubes in a spinach sauce. Sometimes they also have shahi paneer, and luckily, they had it today! I absolutely love both of them and you will two. There is so much flavor to the shahi sauce, as well as texture from the spinach. The shahi paneer is a bit denser and chewier than the saag bits, so keep that in mind.
The third plate is for my vegan peeps out there! You can definitely eat Indian cuisine as a plant based or vegan foodie, if you find the right places and the right options! Beans and vegetables tend to be your best bet, so my favorites include the lentil daal, mushroom batar, and kidney bean daal! These are very savory and flavorful, but also kinda soupy, so definitely have them with a spoon or use them as a dip for naan. The mushrooms were so tasty and soft with the onions, carrots, peas and cauliflower too! There were also bits of potato, which I don’t particularly like, so I disregarded those.
Fourth round I tried a couple of new things as well as some more shahi paneer and chili chicken: garbanzo bean daal, cooked curried cauliflower, and goat curry! LOVED the soft garbanzo beans and its sauce, as well as the cauliflower that is so soft it has a potato consistency. If you mash up some cauliflower and cook it as soft as a potato, I will guarantee you that you wouldn’t taste the difference. Goat curry……eh, wasn’t a fan. The meat was too fatty, too chewy and the sauce wasn’t anything new. I’m generally not a huge red meat eater and wouldn’t really chase after it anyways.
Lastly, dessert, because you gotta end the meal on a sweet note, right? My favorite dessert combo is, rather than yogurt, a gajar halwa and fresh pineapple! Wait a minute–gajar whaah? Gajar halwa, aka carrot halwa, is a sweet dessert from North India and Pakistan made of shredded cooked carrots, nuts–typically almonds–ghee, coconut milk and sugar. I know, definitely NOT the healthiest thing in the world, but it is so good that I have to have it every time I come! Plus I’m getting so beta-carotene, so it isn’t entirely evil.
One very important thing to keep in mind is to not overstay your welcome. They will give you around a little more than 45 minutes or even an hour if they’re feeling generous until they give you the check. I made that mistake once when I went for six rounds–each being much smaller portions, probably only one or two scoops of food a plate–and yes, there were no hard feelings, but I could definitely tell that I did stay a bit too long. I’ve never actually experienced a wait, but it does get crowded there and there is nothing more impolite than making someone wait an hour for you to eat. Trust me on this one.
Overall, service in general is very friendly and accommodating! The waiters do a great job at making sure your water is always full, your plates are clean and that you always have a basket of naan. It’s pretty weird to them if you don’t ask for any! The setting and ambience are very casual and lively during the day–I’m not sure if it’s more formal in the evening for dinner, so the overall vibe may be a little bit different then, but correct me if I’m wrong and you do actually go there, which you should! Wonderful people, wonderful food, you can’t go wrong!
ANARBAGH INDIAN RESTAURANT ($$, lunch & dinner, 4.2/5 stars)
Anarbagh is to Indian food as Holly Golightly is to class. Every visit that I’ve had at Anarbagh was delivered perfectly in terms of service, food and ambience–waiting time is limited, the meals are always piping hot in the mini pans and the music and lights are dim enough so that you can have a conversation without disturbance but also a cool and chic vibe while you enjoy your food!
There is such a wide variety of options that you can get on the menu, from lunch combinations, samosas, salad, biryani, naan or roti, vegetable dishes, curries with yogurt or coconut milk, sizzling hot tandoori and tikka, paneer, lamb, beef, chicken, fish and exotic desserts! I am always up for trying new things, but there are many staples that my family and I always order whenever we come, because they are just so good they never get old!
Numero uno: you always have to get some sort of naan, the basic Indian flatbread served at every meal. The naan is presented in a large basket, piping hot, with a little crispiness on the top but a pillowy doughey softness inside. As a healthier alternative, I like to get the roti, which is the whole wheat naan, but you can get plain, garlic, pan-fried with butter, some with sugar as a dessert, and many more. You can have it on its own, but it is better for dipping with curries, biryani, or even a little bit of samosa filling.
Second, going off from number one, are samosas, whether vegetable samosas or meat samosas. I don’t eat them anymore because I no longer like white potatoes, but when I did eat them, I thought they tasted so sinfully good–fluffy and hearty on the inside from the potatoes and vegetables while crispy and even a little chewy on the outside from the breading. Note that samosas are dense in white carbs, so they are definitely a splurge item!
The third item is my family’s personal favorite–vegetable biryani, an Indian-style rice dish. There is such a rich medley of spices such as saffron, flavors and textures that you get all on one cast iron pan! Even though it is so flavorful all in itself, it is also very versatile with the different meats, curries and other stews and vegetables served separately. It’s probably one of the best things to get for takeout as well–just microwave it the next day and have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner! It supposedly tastes just as amazing. There are also other types of biryani, such as lamb, chicken, shrimp, egg, mushroom, spinach or a mix or everything!
Fourth staple is any type of sizzling tikka or tandoori plate. I prefer the tikka plates because oftentimes, the tandoori meats are served with bones–with the exception of shrimp and paneer, and to me there is nothing more annoying than chewing a piece of meat and finding a hunk of gristle stuck in your teeth, whereas for tikka plates, the meat is de-boned for you. Both have the same delicious spiced flavors, but one is more annoying to eat than the other.
And what is an Indian meal without curry? You have to order some sort of curry in any Indian restaurant, but Anarbagh probably boasts some of the best in the city. There is an endless array of curries to choose from, but you should always order the mixed vegetable curry with cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes and more, a tikka masala (we generally order chicken but fish and vegetable masala are tasty too), sag bhaje, and eggplant bharta, which is my personal favorite because I love eggplant!
Some items that we don’t get every time we come but that we still love are the paneer tikka plate, shrimp tandoori plate and sag mushrooms. You should definitely try them out, and you will love it!
Pictured below is sag bhaje, eggplant bharta nad two pieces of chicken tikka and a little blob of Sriracha in the middle of the plate! Yum yum yum!
What is our main criteria for restaurants? It’s pretty simple: food, service, cost and location. Both of these places have a fairly biased location because I live near them, but you probably might not, but in general, these places are just so amazing because of their food, their lovely service and money’s worth. The main reasons why I love these restaurants are because they have amazing food for really good prices, a friendly ambience, a wide variety of food, and they cater towards a lot of dietary needs, such as gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, high protein, low carb, low sugar, high sugar, dairy free, the smother-everything-in-cheese diet, etc., so that anyone can enjoy a meal. Please visit these restaurants if you ever visit L.A., and do comment below what your favorite Indian restaurants are so that I can visit them too!
Royal Delhi Palace: http://www.royaldelhipalace.com/
Anarbagh Indian Cuisine: http://www.anarbaghindiancuisine.com/