Naansense

6 Indian feasts for under $25

Chicago is filled with amazing Indian restaurants, and they aren’t all up on Devon Street. If you’re looking for a curry festival, a tandoori party, or a garam masala bash, here are six places you can go that won’t break the bank.

Cumin—an upscale destination with a down-to-earth buffet special
A Michelin Bib Gourmand selection with a sleek interior, this isn’t your typical hole-in-the-wall spot—but that doesn’t mean a meal here has to break the bank. If you’ve come to this Indian-Nepalese restaurant looking for lunch, there’s a buffet for under $15. If it’s dinner you’re after, start with an order of pakora (fritters made with chickpea flour) with vegetables ($5) and then try a generous plate of lamb saag with creamed spinach and curry sauce for $16.

Udupi Palace’s Southern Indian delights go light on your budget
One of the great things about Indian food is that much of it is vegetarian, which cuts down on the cost. This all-vegetarian spot is famous for it’s large menu of dosai—otherwise known as dosas, those savory rice crepes filled with a variety of goodies. Try the sada Mysore dosai ($7.50), filled with hot chutney and served with vegetable soup. They’ve also got a unique selection of Indian-Chinese dishes, including Manchurian gobi, a hearty dish of cauliflower served in a tomato-garlic sauce ($11).

Hema’s Kitchen keeps the crowds coming back with it’s jam-packed menu
This venerable Chicago institution for Indian food has two locations, in Lincoln Park and Devon. It also was the first Indian spot to be featured on Check, Please—meaning it’s still often crowded. The menu is huge, but don’t skip the lamb with okra, served with onions and tomatoes ($12.99) or the fish vindaloo with potatoes, coconut, and curry. It may be a tiny bit more expensive than some of the competition, but Hema’s is worth it.

India House serves up a four-course feast
This River North Indian joint is popular with office-dwellers emerging into the bright light of day for a quick lunch break, but the real draw is the “India House Special Feast for Two,” one of the best deals to be found anywhere. At $50 for two, it’s right on the line of affordable, but lives up to its name with four courses of Indian goodness, including soup, salad, tandoori grill, and dessert. You’re guaranteed to leave stuffed.

Ghareeb Nawaz can’t be beat for affordable eats
By far the best bargain on the list, Ghareeb Nawaz offers most dishes for just $4.99, with some coming in as low as $2. Lamb and goat khorma is a fragrant curry with fried onions for $3.99, while for $4.99 the green chile chicken rice combines spice and citrus along with yogurt.

Build-your-own sandwiches make good sense at Naansense
This Chipotle-style build your own “naanwich” spot is really, really delicious. Start with flatbread, choose your protein (go for the lamb or paneer), and fill it up with all of the delicious ingredients you want. Wash it all down with a mango lassi and marvel at how full both and your wallet are.

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