F, V at Lower East Side-Second Ave.
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Canal St. to 21st St., Ave. D to Fifth Ave.
In spite of its location amid all those cookie-cutter curry cookers, Banjara is an oasis on Little India's restaurant row. The room and adjoining lounge are cliche-free. And chef Abu Ahmed's unusual dishes like juicy clay-oven chicken marinated in wine and cream should dispel any worries that the street's mythical underground shared kitchen has taken on a new client. Try the dumpakht, a strange, blimpish delicacy from the city of Lucknow. The lamb version (there's also chicken and shrimp) is slow-cooked in a creamy stew with almonds, bay leaves, and sticks of cinnamon, then sealed under a dome of pastry, like some fabulist South Asian rendition of lamb potpie.Recommended Dishes
Sharabi kababi (clay-oven chicken marinated in wine and cream), $15.95; banjara karahi (barbecued lamb with sun-dried tomatoes), $14.95; bay goon ka goon (whole roasted eggplant), $10.95