New India Gate has won a cult following since opening in Chandler two years ago. It doesn't take all that long to see why.
As soon as you enter, you are greeted by Pardip and Gopi Singh, brothers and owners of New India Gate. They usher diners into an unassuming, spacious room. Decor is minimal: maroon tablecloths and unadorned walls in a spacious room that seats 120.
The hospitality is a precursor of what's to come.
First, that may be mango lassi. The drink is an Indian staple made from mango blended with yogurt. In many Indian restaurants, sweetness overpowers. Mango lassi is an art and can only be done well with handpicked mangos, not the processed concoction from a can. New India Gate's lassi tastes fresh, the swirl of orange puree and yogurt mixed together to milkshake consistency.
New India Gate offers a buffet every day. It features traditional Punjabi dishes like dal makhani, chicken tikka, saag paneer, and others. Some may roll their eyes at the idea of another Indian buffet, but the Singh brothers elevate theirs with fresh ingredients.
"We buy local," Pardip says. "My brother and I shop for the groceries during the week to assure we offer our customers the best ingredients."
Dal makhani, a popular Punjabi dish with dark brown lentils and kidney beans, smells of garlic, onions, and tomatoes. A buttery, creamy sauce with a little spice coats the legumes. Saag paneer, spinach with traditional cheese cubes, pairs well with dal makhani. The brothers use fresh paneer. It is firm but soft, spiced with cumin, coriander, and clove.
"My parents are chefs," Pardip says. "This is what we know — to have good food, you cannot rush any part of the process. And that starts with the beginning. Knowing that you have to put quality above everything else."
The brothers' mom, Sukhwinder Kaur, is New India Gate's chef. She has worked in kitchens with their dad, Sarwan Singh, since 1996 and spent a considerable amount of time at Royal Taj in Tempe and India Gate in Chandler. The brothers remember helping their parents in the kitchen when they were young. Now, they charm patrons with their welcome, while Mom works to provide homemade cuisine you might experience in a small kitchen in Mumbai.
Additionally, the family approaches cuisine from an angle not typically associated with Indian cooking in the United States — health. Most entrees aren't cooked with oil but with dairy-based products. This is a conscientious decision.
"We want our diners to know they can feel good eating here every single day," Pardip says. "They don't have to feel guilty about indulging, and our philosophy to not use oil encourages repeat customers."
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And while most Indian restaurants shy away from serving beef, New India Gate doesn't. Beef korma, braised sirloin spiced with cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and grated coconut, is available at the buffet and on the evening menu. And though New India Gate cooks a range of lamb, seafood, and other beef dishes, the place also has options for vegetarians and vegans.
The brothers keep Kingfisher on draft. Opting for the Indian beer after that first mango lassi would be doing a meal at this Chandler eatery right. Between the drinks and the hospitality, New India Gate is a nice place to sit down to a homestyle Indian meal.
New India Gate. 4939 West Ray Road, #1; 480-427-4141.
Monday to Thursday:11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m.