Indian food ranks among the most comforting of cuisines—a perfect fit in a city racked by harsh winters and hungry students. From decades-old classics to a cash-only cult favorite, here are our top picks for an Indian food fix in Boston.

India Quality

Remember when Kenmore Square was a gritty locale with a famous punk rock scene? Yeah, we don’t either. But India Quality does. This subterranean spot has been a favorite for Spinach Roti and creamy Chicken Korma since 1983. India Quality keeps things elevated with white tablecloths and necktie-clad waiters, but the prices are a steal for the neighborhood: Many lunch entrees are less than $10.

Punjabi Dhaba

Punjabi Dhaba brings the experience of eating at a roadside Indian diner to Inman Square. The counter-service, cash-only spot serves dishes like Paneer Chili Masala and Chicken Vindaloo on compartmentalized metal trays overflowing with rice, naan, and chutney. The flavorful food and low prices can make for long wait times, but TVs playing Bollywood on loop provide constant entertainment.

With locations in Kendall Square, Dorchester, and Roslindale, Shanti Restaurant has managed to build a local empire out of traditional Indian and Bangladeshi cooking. Its menu includes excellent takes on classics, from roti bread to curries to chicken tandoori baked in a clay oven. Adventurous souls can take the “Xtreme Vindaloo Challenge” that runs each October, which rewards those capable of finishing the very hottest version of curry with a gratis entree on their next visit.

Punjab Palace

The Allston sister restaurant to India Quality, Punjab Palace focuses on Northern Indian cuisine and offers a wide array of vegetarian dishes and inexpensive lunch specials. The menu is extensive, but this spot is best known for its take on Chicken Tikka Masala. While Punjab Palace serves traditional non-alcoholic Indian beverages like Mango Lassi, it also stocks a surprisingly strong list of more than 20 imported beers, including Belgian sours and Trappist ales.

The Maharaja

An upstairs dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows and white tablecloths makes Harvard Square institution The Maharaja feel worthy of its princely name. Once you’ve found a table overlooking the square, tuck into a plate of Maharaja Biryani made with lamb, chicken, and shrimp. And when that inevitable craving for a good Indian lunch buffet strikes, Maharaja delivers.

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