The food at Indika is on a par with the fare served at the most innovative Indian restaurants in the United States. And unlike imaginative Indian chefs like Floyd Cardoz at Tabla in New York, Indika's chef and owner, Anita Jaisinghani, doesn't do fusion. Hence her menu, while impressively creative, isn't contrived. The Maple Leaf Farms duck tandoori in a toasted almond curry served with green beans and fluffy white basmati rice is purely Indian -- but made with the best American ingredients. The roasted eggplant filled with paneer and cashews may be the best vegetarian dish in the city. The samosas with papaya-ginger chutney are shocking. And the hot nan tastes like an Indian pizza. Even a lowly side dish like the yellow lentil mush called dal comes to the table electrically flavored with garlic, ginger and cumin. While the charming little cottage on Memorial may not be as impressive as Tabla's stunning headquarters on Madison Avenue, Jaisinghani is working on that, too. Her new location on Westheimer next to the former site of Marrakech Restaurant is under construction.
Readers' choice: Shiva Indian Restaurant