But those who limit their Karma encounter to the buffet don't know what they are missing. Mehernosh Daroowalla and his wife Tina, the owner/managers of Karma, have put considerable time and effort into making their restaurant stand apart from run-of-the-mill Indian eateries that simply serve up the sub-continent's favorites with a smile.Although Karma does serve a rich, hearty Chicken Tikka Masala - a dish that many Americans can't get enough of - there is a lot more on the menu for those who care to challenge their palettes. Try the Crabcake Makhani ($17), lumped crabmeat smothered in a red, garlicky sauce. The Bagare Shrimp ($16), a shrimp stir-fry spiced with coriander, is also popular.
Watching the Daroowallas manage their restaurant may help explain why the menu is particularly extensive. By all accounts, the husband and wife team, who met in Bombay in high school before emigrating to the U.S. in the early 1980s, spend virtually every waking moment in Karma or in India on The Hudson, an uptown Indian restaurant they also own. So much time, in fact, that they frequently take all their meals there.
"I really like seafood," said Mr. Daroowalla Tuesday with a big smile.
"Some people think that all there is is Chicken Tikka Masala," said Mrs. Daroowalla as her husband rushed off to make sure that everything was okay in the kitchen. "We can not convince them otherwise. We try to steer them towards other dishes so that they know that there other things out there."
While her husband takes pride in having put trout on the menu, Mrs. Daroowalla has also stamped the restaurant with her own vision.
Instead of the glittery gold pictures of Buddhas that tend to adorn the walls of most Indian restaurants, Karma is decorated in soft oranges, blues and reds that recall Rajasthan, an isolated oasis in the Indian desert that has spawned a burgeoning art community.
Mrs. Daroowalla, a Pratt School of Design graduate who used to work as an interior designer, has imported a number of artifacts from Rajasthan, including a few dozen ornate window shutters that have been covered in glass and are used as tables. From its small-but-hip five-seat bar in the back of the restaurant to the table which is adorned with pillows and allows patrons to eat like traditional Indians, the restaurant has clearly been put together by someone with a practiced eye.
Before entering into the restaurant business full time, Mrs. Daroowalla was part of a team of interior designers that helped furnish movie director Steven Spielberg's homes in New York and California.
When asked what differentiates Karma from India on the Hudson, the Daroowallas pointed to the way food is served at Karma. "It's bistro-style here," said Mr. Daroowalla. "You can share here. But you have your own plate. That's not how it is in traditional Indian restaurants [like India on the Hudson]."
Although the d