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Nirvana

Address: 8689 Wilshire Blvd.
Cross Street: N. Hamel Dr.
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills
Phone: (310) 657-5040
Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 6PM-midnight
Fri.-Sat., 6PM-1AM

Type: Indian
You might have noticed this former lounge space driving along Wilshire through the wilds of Beverly Hills. Now that the economy has taken a nose dive, however, the folks behind this Indian eatery have decided to redouble their efforts on the cuisine by hiring a chef straight from the kitchen at the famous Bukhara restaurant in New Delhi.

Though you can still find a full-service lounge with interestingly intimate seating options at Nirvana, the kitchen is now turning out a profusion of perfumed plates like the fried mushrooms stuffed with cheese, cilantro and chili salsa; spicy Baingan Ka Bharta smoked eggplant with onions, scallions and tomatoes; homemade Dal (a lentil stew-dip) made according to the secret Bukhara recipe; and Murgh Malai Kebab of chicken breast spiced with cheese, chili and cilantro cooked in a tandoor oven.

The impressive main courses include the butter chicken cooked tandoori style and served in a special Nirvana sauce; a very green spinach curry with cheese and tofu; and the house specialty, Sikandri Raan, a whole leg of lamb marinated overnight with old monk Indian rum and freshly ground spices then cooked in a tandoor.

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For dessert, there's a light-as-air mango Napoleon with yogurt cream and filo pastry, dense carrot Halwa flavored with cardamom and served with coconut-pineapple ice cream, and ice-cold homemade pistachio ice cream with frozen berries.

The wine list needs a little work, so in the meantime, try one of the fancifully (and borderline porn-y) named cocktails like the "Burning Desire," or the "Nirvana Martini" with lime juice and mint.