Spicy & Savory: Indian Cuisine in Metro Detroit

By: Toni Cunningham | November 14, 2014

When it comes time for dinner this weekend, you’ll likely reach for the takeout menus at least once. And when you do, just this once, leave the flyer for the ol’ standby pizza joint where it is, and don’t rely on the Coney that’s just around the corner, either.

This weekend, spice up your palate (literally) with some Indian food! Whether you already love Indian cuisine or are looking to explore and try a new dish, you won’t be disappointed with the number of Indian restaurants the Metro Detroit area has to offer. Here are a few you have to choose from:

Mazza Indian Cuisine, 3354 W. 12 Mile Rd., Berkley, is an authentic contemporary Indian restaurant that offers lunch and dinner specials as well as carryout. Start off your meal with two Meat Samosas (a pastry stuffed with ground lamb, peas and spices) or Masala Dosa (a crepe stuffed with potato curry).

Mazza chef specials are sure to please for the main course, and include options like Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken breast with a spicy yogurt sauce), Kari Lamb (lamb with spices, tomatoes and onions) and Shrimp Patia (sweet and sour shrimp prepared using a Persian recipe). Each of the above meals is served with rice or naan. And let me tell you, if you’ve never had naan before, it is the most amazing type of bread that has ever existed. You can even order a side of stuffed Chicken Tikka Naan here!

Shalimar, 307 S. Main St., Ann Arbor, specializes in north Indian, Tandoori and Mughlai cuisine, and there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. The full bar is stocked with a variety of Indian beers and specialty cocktails like the Shalimar Delight, a concoction of Southern Comfort, Triple Sec, mango juice, lemon and lime juice.

Of course, you won’t want to order one on an empty stomach. There is a huge variety of bread at Shalimar, including regular and garlic naan, as well as podina naan, which is stuffed with mint leaves. There are also stuffed kulchas (leavened bread) including your choice of potato, paneer and onions; date, poppy seeds and coconut; and olive and feta cheese.

The menu’s dinner specialties include Murgh Punjabi Masala (chicken with onions, garlic, ginger, tomato, herbs and spices), Lamb Saag (lamb with creamed spinach, herbs and spices) and Bengali Fish Curry (marinated fish with a rich creamy mustard sauce).

Neehee’s, 45656 Ford Rd., Canton, is a restaurant that serves vegetarian Indian street food. There are plenty of south Indian dishes to choose from, including Vada Sambhar (spiced savory lentil dumplings served with sambhar for dipping), Vegetable Uttapam (with peas, carrots, onions, peppers and cabbage) and Corn, Cheese and Paneer Dosa Wraps (with sweet corn kernels, mozzarella cheese and shredded paneer, served with a spicy sauce).

If you’re a fan of crepes, you’ll want to try one of the menu’s many plain dosa or masala dosa. The crepe or pancake like item comes in plain, cheese, onion and green chili and cheese. Don’t forget to order Falooda with vanilla ice cream for dessert! It’s a popular sweet drink in India made with rose syrup, tapioca pearls and a variety of other ingredients.

Star of India, 180 W. 9 Mile Rd., has a menu full of Indian appetizers, breads, tandoori specialties, chicken, seafood and veggie dishes. Start with an appetizer of Sheek Kabob (ground meat mixed with onion and herbs and cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven), Fried Eggplant or Chicken Pakora (marinated and breaded chicken).

The restaurant’s tandoori specialties are a variety of Indian-style barbecue dishes cooked in a clay oven served with your choice of naan or rice. Try the Chicken Makhni (cooked with almonds and cream), Botikabob (cubes of lamb) or Shrimp Tandoori (marinated in homemade curd with herbs and spices).

Phulkari Punjabi Kitchen, 27707 Dequindre Rd. Madison Heights, has been around for over 20 years, and you may have formerly known it as Indo Pak Restaurant. After renaming and revamping, the restaurant still serves the same delicious Punjabi street food and entrees.

Thali menu choices rotate daily, and in case you’re new to Indian cuisine, the website fills you in as to what thali is: a traditional meal composed of a variety of dishes, rice, bread and dessert. Just choose whether you want meat or vegetarian, and take your pick from three different options being served daily, then pair that with tandoori roti or naan, rice and dessert. You’ve got yourself a meal!

Small plates are true to the street food idea, and include items like the Aloo Puff Plate (puffed pastry filled with spicy potato), Paneer Pakora (cheese fried with spiced chickpea batter) and Samosa Plate (turnovers served with chickpea curry and chutneys).

Grace of India, 4445 2nd Ave., Detroit, not only makes amazing food, but allows you to conveniently order your food from the convenience of your computer, and they’ll even deliver it right to your door for a $5 fee.

Whether you’re looking for a snack, wrap, or an entrée, Grace of India has it all. The Butter Chicken (barbecued in a tandoor and finished in a creamy onion and tomato sauce with herbs and spices), Lamb Jalfrazi (with tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs) and Saag Paneer (homemade cheese and spinach with spices and herbs) are all great options.

The next time a craving for takeout hits, forget about the usual suspects and order out from an Indian restaurant in Metro Detroit. Unless, of course, your usual suspect is an Indian restaurant in the D. Then, carry on (and carry out) as usual!