Smile Politely

Eat satisfying Indian cuisine at NAYA

The cropped header image for the review of NAYA Indian Cuisine. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

Opened in March this year, NAYA Indian Cuisine offers delicious Indian food in a modern artistic atmosphere on campus. I enjoyed the warm aroma and aesthetic colors that welcomed me once I entered. The restaurant has a lot of warm tones, wood accents, big windows, and modern comfortable furniture.

Inside NAYA Indian Cuisine on Green Street, there are golden pendant lights in a warm wood restaurant. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

There are a number of delicious Indian restaurants in Champaign-Urbana, and I was very excited to try out this place for the first time. I felt immediately welcomed with very friendly service. The service was fast, hospitable, and very helpful about any questions someone may have.

The complementary jeera papad at NAYA. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

The experience begins with complimentary jeera papad with mint chutney. The jeera papad was a crisp that has been flavored with cumin seeds, and the mint chutney was a green sauce that was both spicy and refreshing. This tasty pre-meal snack invigorated my taste buds and got me ready and excited for all the bold flavors to come.

An overhead photo of a mango lassi with an appetizer at NAYA. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

NAYA Indian Cuisine offers a ton of refreshment options including alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. I found it very cool that they had alcoholic options domestic to India, such as Kingfisher which is an Indian-brand lager beer. For my drink, I decided on the $3.99 mango lassi, which was a thick, tangy yogurt drink blended with mango. It was delicious, not too sweet, and had a very natural mango flavor. I recommend this drink to anybody who would like something shake-like to cool down their taste palate.

An appetizer of vegetable pakora. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

As an appetizer, I ordered a plate of vegetable pakora, which was very reasonably priced at $6.99. This dish had a variety of cauliflower, spinach, and onion that was deep-fried in chickpea batter. It was crunchy, crispy, savory, and served with a side of tamarind chutney, which was very sweet and tasty. This appetizer had a very mild spice level, and I encourage those who love the very popular Indian samosa to venture out and try this dish.

When I ordered my entrees, I was asked for what spice level I wanted my dishes to be at. Do not be nervous if you are worried about accidentally getting something too spicy!

An overhead photo of the goat curry. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

I chose to get two entrees during my dining experience, one vegetarian and one with meat. The goat curry ($17.99) was incredibly aromatic, and the meat was tender and bone-in. I enjoyed how despite this dish having a tomato base, the curry was so well seasoned that it only had a very mild tomato flavor. 

An overhead photo of the goat curry. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

I ordered the daal makhani ($12.99) as well, which was a creamy brown lentil soup. Even though this dish was incredibly creamy and melted in my mouth, it was not overly heavy or greasy. Having grown up eating daal makhani, this dish felt incredibly authentic and tasted very similar to something my grandma or mom would make.

I ordered both dishes as a spice-level medium out of the options (mild, medium, and spicy). I do suggest if you are someone who is more sensitive to spicy food, get your entrees at level mild, as medium definitely had a kick to it!

The tandoori roti at NAYA. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

All entrees come with a choice of bread, and I decided on trying the garlic chili naan and the tandoori roti. Individually priced, the garlic naan is $3.99, and the roti is $2.99. The tandoori roti was incredibly crisp and delicious. This was an Indian wheat bread that was soft in the middle and crisp on the outside as it is made in a tandoor (traditional clay oven).

In a basket lined with white parchment paper, there is garlic chili naan from NAYA. Photo by Ayesha Mehta.
Ayesha Mehta

My personal highlight of the night was the garlic chilli naan, a crispy, flat Indian bread that had been heavily flavored with garlic and spices. It heightened and offered a crispy vessel for both my entrees.

The dinner was also accompanied by a large bowl of jeera rice, which was long, thin white rice flavored with cumin. It was incredibly fluffy and tasted delicious mixed with the goat curry. I appreciated not only a complimentary choice of bread with the order of an entree but also the bowl of rice. The portions were very generous, and diners are guaranteed to leave not only full but satisfied. I would definitely eat at this establishment again, and I am looking forward to trying out more that they have to offer.

The food at NAYA Indian Cuisine is good quality and very tasty. Whether you are someone who loves Indian food or somebody who wants to try something new for the first time, I would very happily highly recommend dining at this establishment.

NAYA Indian Cuisine
212 E Green St
M-Su 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 to 11 p.m.

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