In search of ... Indian food

Lazeez Tava Fry

4650 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Suite 133A, Norcross

The menu here includes lots of halal meats — a rarity in Indian restaurants in Atlanta. Dishes such as bheja fry goat or lamb brain with pepper and tomatoes and beef nihari in a “spicy red sauce” and lots of ginger are Tava Fry specialties. You don’t need to know any of this to enjoy the food at this tidy restaurant. You’ll find plenty of dishes on Lazeez’s menu that may surprise and delight you, like gosht banjara, a Persian phrase that means meat or flesh and is a weekend specialty. Tender goat meat, still on the bone, is blanketed in green masala, rich gravy with aromatic spices hinting of coriander, cinnamon and cardamom, with a creamy backdrop. Shami kabob, an appetizer, consists of ground meat (mostly goat) spiced with chilies, cilantro and mildly head-hammering spicy masala. Lazeez Tava Fry has many Punjabi-style favorites, too, such as tender, stewed okra with tomatoes and heady spices found in bhindi masala; or an aloo masala of potatoes, here mixed with cauliflower and spices.

Moksha,

1380 Old Roswell Road, Roswell, 678-205-5799, www.mokshaatl.com

Set back from Roswell Road in the adorable old Lickskillet Farm house, newly opened Moksha is as upscale as Indian restaurants in Atlanta get. Lushly set tables in a decidedly posh atmosphere don’t detract from the wide array of northern and southern Indian dishes. Most are easily recognizable, though there are a few standouts: Gosht banjara, a goat dish in spicy green curry, and adu ishtu, a spicy lamb stew, are both specialties.

MGR Palace

1825-14A Rockbridge Road, Stone Mountain. 770-413-1415

No one griddles dosai better than MGR Palace. But there’s more to this palace than South Indian pancakes. Medhu vadai is a favorite — a crispy doughnut-like goodie made of white lentil and studded with bits of black peppercorns and ginger. Or try tiny pani puri (little crispy crunchy puffs) and fill them with an array of potatoes, chickpeas and tamarind chutney before popping them in your mouth. Bhel puri (a Mumbai street food) is puffed rice, bits of chickpea flour noodles, cilantro, onions and potatoes mixed up big time with a heap of spicy chutney. There’s thali, too, with incredible dal curries, rice, raita and rice kheer, a favorite sweet dish that’s sort of like a runny rice pudding chock-full of raisins and laced with warming cardamom.

Vatica Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

1475 Terrell Mill Road S.E., Marietta, 770-955-3740, www.indiagourmet.com

A platter of food centered on rice and bread surrounded by savory pots of goodies to dip and sup: This is Gujarati thali, and Vatica serves it up by the loving spoonful. Don’t look for a menu — one day it may be green peppers and potatoes with dal and yogurt curry; the next may be okra and eggplant. Ask for barfi (sweet white fudge) to go — it’s the perfect sugar snack to nibble on the ride home.

Royal Sweets, not rated

1766 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur, 404-327-5799

This Indian sweet and savory to-go shop wedged between closed car dealerships on Lawrenceville Highway is legend to those who love their laddu (a chickpea ball flavored with almonds and cardamom) and samosa (a fried pastry shell filled with peas, potatoes and spices). There’s barfi and bags of namkeen, savory snacks such as roasted cashews with black salt or boondi (wheat puffs), as well as a variety of chaat (think Indian appetizer assortment). Step up to the counter and get a handful of goodies to go.

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