Thursday, July 29, 2010
by Christie Hadden
In Indian, the word "zayka" means flavor. As you enter Zayka Indian Cuisine in Raleigh, you're greeted with the distinctive aromas of cumin, turmeric, chili, ginger and garlic.
And the instant you meet Harry Burman, who runs the front of the house, you know that a zest for life flows through this restaurant. Burman greets all guests as if they were entering his home. Patrons enter as strangers and leave as members of the Zayka family.
Specializing in traditional Northern Indian cuisine, Zayka cooks up regional favorites using traditional practices such as cooking with a tandoori oven and hand-rolling breads and naan. And because it is owned and operated by Indians, the authentic restaurant is able to adapt dishes to the palates of Gujaratis, Bengalis, Punjabis, and other regional tastes. For those new to Indian cuisine, the knowledgeable staff can help cater the spice level to accommodate all tastes.
The restaurant, which opened its doors in November, is centrally located near Brier Creek in the Brierdale Shopping Center. Its main entrance is on Bruckhaus Street, near the center's only traffic circle. There's a rear entrance as well, with plenty of parking. The décor is clean, simple and modern.
Zayka's menu features authentic Indian fare, with vegetarian and meat dishes served with fervid tradition. A side of chutney - ideal with bread or samosas - accompanies each meal. Flavors include red onion chutney, sweet mango chutney, and a green chili chutney made with mint or coriander. Biryani, or flavored rice with vegetables and meats, tastes best when accompanied by raita, a cooling yogurt sauce. Pickled fruits and vegetables are popular accompaniments to meals at Zayka, while a variety of unleavened breads - from naan and roti to paratha - are delicious sides as well. House favorites include Chicken Tikka Masala, Veggie Kebabs, Chicken Malai Kebabs and Chicken Ginger.
The eatery offers a lunch buffet that includes a variety of samplings, in addition to fresh, all-you-can-eat naan; a weekend buffet includes a few more specialties, including shrimp and goat.
Zayka's core business is repeat, loyal customers; some patrons dine there every day. The restaurant also offers a full bar and space for celebrations and meetings, which can accommodate up to 130 people. The room is fully equipped with a high-definition projector, dedicated Ethernet and phone lines, and secured wireless.
It's clear that Zayka Indian Cuisine knows how to bring on the flavor: a flavor for tradition. And for taste buds hankering for Indian flavor, Zayka fits the bill.
Christie Hadden is founder of My Restaurant Guru, a Triangle-based Web site that connects people with area restaurants. To learn more, visit www.MyRestaurantGuru.com.
1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons olive, vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 bay leaves
1 inch of a cinnamon stick
1 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon ginger paste
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2-teaspoon cumin powder
1/4- to 1/2-teaspoon red chili powder
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add cumin, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, and heat for 1 minute on medium heat. Add onion, ginger paste and garlic paste, and mix until brown. Add chopped tomato, and mix for one minute. Add turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, red chili powder and salt. Add chicken cubes and stir 3 to 4 minutes, then add water and cover for 15 minutes on low heat. Serve with rice or naan.
Zayka Indian Cuisine is located at 10410 Moncreiffe Road in Raleigh's Brierdale Shopping Center. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and for dinner from 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 5-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. To learn more, call (919) 361-5370 or visit www.zayka.us.