Ajanta owner Lachu Moorjani was the first to offer organic ingredients in a Bay Area Indian restaurant. He also is the first to bring in regional Indian dishes. (His cookbook--Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India--features these regional dishes and is available for purchase at the restaurant; he will sign it for you.) Other restaurants offer these exotic dishes now, but no one else has the variety. The menu rotates regularly, so each time you return many new dishes are available. I recently dined here once again and was particularly impressed with the creative vegetarian selections. Tandoori portobello mushrooms are moist and chewy and spiced with cloves and cinnamon. Badal Jaam consists of smoky, thick eggplant slices that are fried and brushed with housemade tomato sauce and mango powder. My favorite, Baby Squash Medley, consisted of a variety of squashes mixed with peas and paneer cheese in a tomato curry sauce. I also especially liked both the spectacular tandoori scallops appetizer (they had just the right texture and were served with a yogurt-cashew-tamarind sauce) and the Methi Machi (a filet of fresh wild salmon in a delicious tomato-based sauce). A mango mousse or creamy frozen Kulfi studded with pistachios paired with a cup of decaf chai provides the perfect ending.
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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers