Indian in Austin?
I've been to Shalimar now a few times, and it's usually pretty good, though more of a Pakistani focus, rather than Indian.
Today the tandoor seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Chicken tikka was right on the money -- aggressively spiced, nice bits of char, and perfectly juicy.
Chicken tikka leg:
Seekh kabob was also quite good, very tender and without the hot-dog snap that alot of places can have (from too much egg, I reckon).
Mixed grill platter (beef boti is like leather, perfect for your pooch):
The daal goat was also excellent -- tender chunks of bone-in goat, a spicy curry blended with lentils. Good winter eating.
9310 N Lamar Blvd Ste C, Austin, TX 78753
There is a newly-opened spot on E. Riverside called India Kitchen. It's in the strip center between that huge Chinese buffet that looks like a strip club and the Hacienda meat market. I went in there in the early evening just days after it opened (now it's been a couple of weeks) and they had a nice looking buffet out (they also have a la carte menu, but the offerings look the same).
I tried some food to go: tandoori chicken, vegetable biryani, and veg samosas. Everything was tasty, and the portions were huge, but it wasn't knock-your-socks-off or anything. The tandoori chicken had a good taste from the clay oven, and although the pieces are small, they give you 6 of them. The biryani was a bit oily for my taste, but I find that to often be the case. I liked the condiments, but the raita lacked cucumbers. It was still quite flavorful with cumin and fresh tasting, though. The naan was what I expect naan to be: pillowy and toasted.
All in all, it's not going to compare with the best Indian food out there (my experience is in London, New York, and Houston), but it hits the spot, and I am happy to have it in my neighborhood.
It's worth a look, and I'd be curious to hear other opinions, because I have not tried any other Indian food in Austin, so no idea how it compares. I'd go back, and if I were to take it to go, I'd do the buffet option: $8-9 for 2 lbs., and you can try whatever looks good to you.
Honestly, there really ISN'T any good Indian food in Austin. I agree with you on Clay Pit, i think it's totally overpriced and a little bland for my palate. here are some recommendations though...
Shalimar - located on Lamar and Rundberg. location seems a bit sketchy for some people, but i've never had any problems. the food is hit or miss. when it's a hit, it somewhat reminds me of authentic indian food growing up in Houston. when it's a miss, it's an oily mess...
Bombay Bistro - located on 183 near Braker. strangely enough, i don't care for the food here while dining at the restaurant. BUT, if you take the leftovers home and eat them later, it's REALLY good. i can't explain it. maybe flavors need more time to meld? The roganjosh looks authentic to me. they also offer a fairly decent wine selection. an expensive weekend buffet offers a really good chaat, which they make for you on the spot. now THAT i could eat all day...
Madras Pavilion - located on 183 near Burnet. it's a south indian vegetarian place. food isn't all that. BUT they offer this fried cauliflower dish on their Friday lunch buffet that is phenomenal. the dish does not remind me of any authentic indian food i've ever had, but it's just darn tasty. they also make a good green chili and cilantro dipping sauce thingy, i forget what it's called...
Gonna try out Swad tonight (near Lamar and Rutland), can let you know how that goes... but not going with high expectations...