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Mar 18, 1998 07:39 PM

Indian in Boston

  • j

I'm in need of a good recomedation for Indian food in
Boston. Also if you know of something special thats middle eastern, I'd like to hear about it.



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  1. I can't remember the name off-hand, but next to the
    Pho Pasteur on what used to be Brighton Ave (I think
    they've repaved it and renamed it Main Street as they
    attempt to revive the area), there is an Indian
    restaurant to the right of it which I went to a couple
    times. The dhosa is mmm-mmm good.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Sandy Paik

      FWIW, I really like that Pho Pasteur on Brighton. They also have a branch in downtown Boston.

      1. re: Jim Leff

        I am in complete agreement about Pho Pasteur. Also
        wonderful at Pho Pasteur is the green bean shake
        (Brighton) or the 3 colors bean or whatever they call
        the loose english translation (Chinatown). But there
        are so many wonderful finds in Boston. Ever been to
        Ittyo in Porter Exchange?

        1. re: Sandy Paik

          Since this is moving away from
          strictly Indian, I'll add the Daily
          Catch (also known as the Calamari
          Cafe)...on Hanover in the Italian
          North End, for dinner only...choose
          a fresh seafood, see it sauteed in
          live oil and garlic, then an addition
          of pasta (and an option for red-
          tomato-or white-vino-sauce),
          finally the saute pan with a hunk
          of bread arrives at the tiny
          communal table.....mmmmm

          1. re: Jim Dixon

            Oh, since you have brought the dialogue thus far....
            I must add Dali's in Cambridge to the list of
            wonderful Bostonian haunts. Such wonderful tapas,
            sangria, wait staff and ambience I've never
            experienced elsewhere.

            And mmmm, the Hungry Eye.

            I've also heard wonderful things about Upstairs at the

            1. re: Sandy Paik

              Speaking of Cambridge and Indian food, Shalimar in
              Cambridge, though not a rare find, is consistently
              good. We go there every Christmas Eve. It's become a
              family tradition. --Lobelia

              1. re: Sandy Paik
                martin merowitz

                Rangoli and Pho Pasteur are wonderful. Lots of Pho
                Pasteur's around now. I prefer the Brighten one to that
                in Chinatown. Their take on chicken soup, and their
                many flavored fish soup are miracles- and inexpensive
                too! I'd been to Upstairs at Hasty Pudding two or
                three times, tho' not in last two years. Interesting
                food, good wine list, but- at least when we were there-
                service was too nervous ( tho' the patronne was
                hospitable) and bill too pricey for what we got.

      2. The Indian place on Brighton Ave in Allston is
        called Rangoli and it is pretty good. Order from
        the South Indian menu (the staff is not south
        Indian, I don't think. They have blue eyes which
        I think come from the north).

        Other good choices in the Middle Eastern vein:
        Helmand on 1st Street in Cambridge serves Afghani
        food, a nice variation on Indian. (Strange
        tendency I've noticed: the veggies they serve with
        meat dishes are excellent; the veggie appetizers are
        excellent; the veggie entrees are not at all

        Don't know the name of it, but there's a nice Turkish
        restaurant just behind the Statehouse on Bowdoin
        Street on Beacon Hill.

        The best felafel / kibby / etc. around is in Moody's
        in that little white castle next door to the police
        station on River Street in Central Square Cambridge.
        Make sure they cook the felafel fresh!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Food Boy

          Amazing Turkish at Saray in Packard Corner (be prepared, its BYOB) and Istanbu'lu in Somerville. Amazing, both!

          And since you mentioned Afghani, Ariana in Allston is fantastic!

          There is also a Tunesian and Albanian hole in the wall in Central Square called Baraka Cafe that is great too!

          1. re: renh77

            I think Istanbuluu is a lovely spot with some very good food but i would not rec Saray or Ariana. There have been a number of CH bad reviews of Saray in the last yr. or so. Ariana has some CH fans; we found it boring/ too many same sauces/same components.

            But this thread is from 1998 and is supposed to be about Indian food. You are also responding to a 1998 post about some restnts that don't exist any more. But you are not the only one to do this; I did it a few times myself until i made myself check the thread and post dates each time before chirping in!

        2. Let's blow the masala off this old thread and start it back up!

          How is the Indian in Boston lately?

          Has anyone eaten at India Quality lately? How about Tamarind Bay (either/both the Harvard Sq and the "Coastal" location)? Ate at Singh's Cafe in Wellesley last week and it was delightful as ever, but I wanted to know how the city all-stars were doing lately.

          So, can we revisit the state of Indian cuisine in Boston?

          Tamarind Bay
          75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

          India Quality Restaurant
          484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

          16 Replies
          1. re: Prav

            Wow Prav, you really reached back. Finally tried the place at the Super 88 food court and thought the lamb biriyani was great. Also haleem at Darbar (i know it's Pakistani) knocked my socks off.

            1. re: gourmaniac

              I'm a big big fan of Darbar's haleem. I could go for a bowl of the sticky stuff right now.

              1. re: Prav

                is it always done w/goat at Darbar? i am NOT a goat fan, so i'm hoping the answer is no!

            2. re: Prav

              I have not eaten at India Quality lately, because the last time I did, it sucked. Food was tasteless, and the service abysmal. I'm a big fan of Punjab Palace on Brighton Ave. in Allston. I particularly love a vegetarian thali. Anyone have recs?

              India Quality Restaurant
              484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              Punjab Palace
              109 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

              1. re: CookieLee

                the only thing i ever liked at india quality was the goat curry

                1. re: CookieLee

                  Maybe all the good kitchen staff from IQ moved over the Punjab Palace.

                  Punjab Palace
                  109 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                  1. re: tamerlanenj

                    Bummer about India Quality - was a long-time favorite. Interesting is that Punjab Palace is owned by the same people.

                    1. re: musicman

                      I call BS. India Quality is fantastic, I eat there every couple of months and have for more than 20 years. best indian food I have had in Greater Boston.

                      India Quality Restaurant
                      484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                      1. re: aregularjoe

                        What dishes specifically do you like there, and why?
                        What other Indian restaurants have you eaten at?
                        Have you tried Tamarind Bay?

                        Tamarind Bay
                        75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                2. re: Prav

                  Wow, is this the longest dead thread to ever be revived? This predates me moving back to Boston, much less reading CH

                  1. re: jgg13

                    haha, yeah, I was a junior in highschool when this started (now will be 30 next seek). felt like being a goof today. :)

                    man, I can't wait for that new Indian "healthy" place - Pronti Bistro - to open in Needham/Newton 128 junction. They claim they don't fry anything, make everything homemade, like egg / flatbread sandwiches (egg burji inside a chapati, rolled up).

                  2. re: Prav

                    the menu is mostly indo-chinese but i love the food at indian dhaba in allston

                    1. re: Prav

                      India Quality used to be one of my favorite places in Boston. For whatever reason, I have not enjoyed the food there much recently. Except for the reliably nuclear Vindaloo, I'm not sure it's worth a trip anymore unless you happen to be in the neighborhood.

                      In the meantime, I await help on finding a new go to spot for Indian. Never cared too much for Punjabi Dhaba. Don't really like Diva in Somerville but the place across the street is pretty good. How is India Samraat these days?

                      Punjabi Dhaba
                      225 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                      India Quality Restaurant
                      484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                      1. re: tamerlanenj

                        I don't make it a point to explore Indian food far and wide in Boston, but India Samraat delivers consistently great food, and the owners could not be friendlier. It isn't meant for a fancy night out, but I've always left quite pleased.

                        India Samraat Restaurant
                        51A Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

                      2. re: Prav

                        Personally I love India Quality. They are always consistant and delicious. Another great choice, although a little harder to get to, is Kashish in Belmont Center.

                      3. If we're talking Indian, Tamarind Bay is very good.


                        Tamarind Bay
                        75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        24 Replies
                        1. re: scotty27

                          Yeah, my post was asking how it and its coastal bhai were doing. Anyone been lately?

                          1. re: Prav

                            i eat about 2 times per month at Tamardin Bay in part because it is a short walk from where i live - last about 2 weeks ago; I think that it is fine. I was disappointed the one time that i tried Coastal. I was surprised by that.

                            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                              I also had a pretty awful experience at TB Coastal Kitchen the one time I ate there, and it was deafeningly LOUD to boot.

                          2. re: scotty27

                            Tamarind Bay's lunch buffet is the worst Indian buffet I have ever had. Few choices, cold bread, no regular refilling of empty trays, the usual dry chicken chunks in sauce. I did like the Tandoori chicken, I'll give them that ...

                            I often heard this place mentioned by chow hounds and so I went there - I can only surmise that their dinner must be completely different from their bad lunch buffet ... either that or they've got people constantly singing its praises in here.

                            Tamarind Bay
                            75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                            1. re: mmocpi

                              I've only had dinners there. If we eliminate Tamarind Bay, I guess that would do it for me. My friends from India won't eat in Indian restaurants in Boston; I'm in India every couple of years. I can't honestly think of any place in this city half as good. I have eaten at most other places in town and they are kind of a joke. Sorry!

                              Tamarind Bay
                              75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              1. re: scotty27

                                What regional styles of Indian cooking (or even specific dishes) are you comparing between here and India, such that our renditions are a joke? Not asking to be snarky, I genuinely am curious.

                                1. re: Prav

                                  The problem I'm having--and maybe you have found an exception--is precisely that: All of the Indian places in town offer country-wide menus. Take Bombay Club in the South End: One of the chefs worked at Bukhara in Delhi, which is truly one of the world's best restaurants, with northwestern food as its focus: Five entrees, no apps. At Bombay Club, he could do the same, but instead has a huge menu of dishes from all of India. It doesn't work. Is there an Indian place in town that focuses on one region? Is there an Indian place in town that fries its spices for each dish rather than dunking the protein into prepped sauces? (This dunking method is typical.) Is there a 100% vegetarian Indian restaurant? I used to like the dosas in Allston, but then they got soggy.

                                  I hasten to add that the Indian place inside the food court at Super 88 has good samosas.


                                  1. re: scotty27

                                    Another vote for Darbar -- excellent lamb brains and goat curry. Had the lunch buffet at Harvest of India yesterday, and was underwhelmed by totally ordinary fare and garlic naan with the flavor of Italian-American garlic bread.

                                    1. re: scotty27

                                      I broadly agree with you. I've bemoaned more-or-less the same thing multiple times on this board in multiple places. As you say two posts above, Tamarind Bay is an exception to the generally dismal Boston rule. But there are changes that are slowly taking place. We have had two largely Bengali restaurants in Cambridge for years now, Royal Bengal and Bengal Cafe. The quality at both is uneven, but if you stick to the Bengali food you can often eat well and always eat interestingly. The two new Pakistani restaurants (the food is very similar to that eaten by Muslims in many parts of India) in the Boston area, Darbar and Darul Kebab, also offer many particular dishes from a specific cuisine. Sadly, all these restaurants also seem to feel that they cannot survive on a few dishes alone, so they offer an undistinguished pan-Indian menu in addition, but I think the time will come when a restaurant here has the courage and the deep pockets needed to offer solely regional food.

                                      India-wide menus are common in India, as well. Rasmalai is offered as a dessert in many restaurants now, even very good ones, not just Bengali places. And the gulab jamun, originally a dessert from the northwest made with aged and moldy concentrated milk ("green khoya"), has spread in a weaker, spongier, breadier form all over India. Part of the reason is that Indian food has always borrowed and adapted. Many of the dishes that we think of as Indian are relatively new. Indian tandoori chicken only goes back about 60 years or so, broken milk sweets from Bengal (like rasmalai) about 110 years, etc. Potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies -- all essential in Indian food today -- are new-world imports. One thinks of India as an ancient culture going back several thousand years, and it is, but "traditional" Indian food is largely of recent origin and it relies heavily on dishes and ingredients intermingling. Pure regional cuisines are hard to pin down.

                                      Still, as I said at the start, I share your broad dismay at the state of Indian food in Boston.

                                      Tamarind Bay
                                      75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                      Royal Bengal
                                      313 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                                        The Bengali restaurant on Mass Ave has a Bengali menu that is pretty darn good, yes.

                                        Funny about the regional restaurant you see missing: I had a cab ride last year with an Indian driver. He and three friends want to open a "real" indian restaurant. He gave me the skinny on places around town. Hey, maybe one day!

                                        Yup, India-wide menus are all over India. Look, if they can do it well, I'm all for it. I'm no purist. But it's so hard to do a small menu let alone one with 50 items. That's what the dunk into pre-made sauces comes in.

                                        There's a great book about the history of Indian food in the West: Curry by Lizzie Collingham...

                                        There is a chain of all veg southern Indian restaurants all, over India. That would be so nice to have here!


                                        1. re: scotty27

                                          there are two vegetarian south indian restaurants in lowell. udupi bhavan and mysore veggie on middlesex street

                                          1. re: galangatron

                                            Wow! Great news! Thanks! Have you been?

                                            1. re: scotty27

                                              i've only been to udupi bhavan. the food is good (especially the dosas) and they have an all-day buffet on sunday

                                              1. re: scotty27

                                                i have trumpeted UB quite a bit. it is vegetarian only. the best so. indian food i have had in boston area (over the nearby Priya, and Pongal in Billerica) since Annapurna in Worcester closed 20 yrs ago. For Northern Indian, our fave has been Namaskar in Davis Sq. and i remember Allstonian and Barmy used to agree on that, but i haven't been there in a yr or so. I have always been partial to Tanjore in Harv Sq. for their uttapum and chick tika masala.

                                                Another So.Indian friend told me about a place he really likes in Nashua. in a small strip mall; named for woman owner/chef. can't remember her name. Also just read about a new So.Indian veg only place just opened in Burlington behind the mall......2 sisters-in-law. Saw the menu but it seemed rather small (no pessarat or rava dosa, my favs.)

                                                Udupi Bhavan:


                                                18 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  The place in Nashua is called Meena's and it's downtown on Pearl St. Fabulous Hyderabadi cuisine. Check NNE board for more info.

                                                  1. re: whs

                                                    whs, thx much. we may try to go v soon. what are your favs there?

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      What they call a buffet is really a set 6 course meal with unlimited portions. (Changes daily.) We've had some unusual items; pineapple curry, and interesting versions of dosais. Totally vegetarian; they are very accommodating of specific allergies and offer vegan dishes as well. It's almost like eating at someone's home.

                                                      1. re: whs

                                                        Wow. The NNE board is off my radar but, gosh, Meena's looks incredible. Looks like somewhat of an amalgamation of a few Andhra Pradesh cuisines. I went back and read your posts whs and this place sounds absolutely fabulous. Gosh, today's menu has be slobbering like a bloodhound. Thanks for the heads-up !!


                                              2. re: galangatron

                                                I think Mysore Veggie has closed. But Udupi Bhavan is still good, and has an outpost in Framingham, I think.

                                                Mysore Veggie
                                                1689 Middlesex St, Lowell, MA 01851

                                                378 Maple Ave, Shrewsbury, MA 01545

                                                1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                  that's too bad. i never got a chance to try it. i usually end up at senmonorom when i'm in the area

                                            2. re: FoodDabbler

                                              FoodDabbler, thank you for such an informative post - THIS is why I love CH. :)

                                              1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                Agree with your nice insights as well. It's obviously not unique to Desi food - take a look at the Chinese restaurant menus around town and you're bound to find dishes from all over the place. And Chinese cuisine in the US has evolved quite a bit to start diversifying in regional offerings. Thai food has made good progress as well, and it's now not as uncommon to find an Isaan section of the menu (tho perhaps not in Boston). But generally speaking, most of these restaurants still offer most of the other national classics. Part of the process is finding out who does what, so you don't end up complaining about the dosas at Darbar, and hopefully end up happy with Hyderabadi offerings at K&T. You just gotta poke around.

                                                1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                  Bengal Cafe seems to have closed. I'll miss it.

                                            3. re: scotty27

                                              Punjab Cafe in Quincy is quite good, although it is a bit hard to reach (except by car).

                                        2. While we're (back) on the subject - who in town does a good version of butter chicken? I realize it's not a terribly exotic dish but somehow I'd never in my life tried it until I was in India for the first time a few weeks ago. It was the house specialty at our favorite restaurant in Delhi and I absolutely fell in love with it!

                                          22 Replies
                                          1. re: BobB

                                            bob, this may surprise, delight, or horrify you, but I am a BIG fan of the butter chicken sold in the TrJ refrig, section. Terrific flavor and chicken is moist. rice and vegs are part of it. (Best protein deal I've found too. 3 ou chicken, and only $4.)

                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                              I'm not horrified, nor terribly surprised - I've occasionally found prepared foods at TJ's that I really liked (though many more that disappointed). So I'll pick up some of this today, and we'll see later if delight comes into the picture.

                                              Thanks for the tip!

                                              1. re: BobB

                                                Alas, my local TJ's claims never to have heard of a refrigerated butter chicken. They carry a frozen version - but were out of it today.

                                                1. re: BobB

                                                  I saw it today at TJS Boylston Street. It is in the case with the fresh dinner options.

                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                    well darn. i get it in Arl. and frpond.

                                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                      My wife commutes past Fresh Pond - I'll have her pick some up, thanks. For the record, it's the Coolidge Corner store that doesn't carry it.

                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                        Perhaps we can request them to carry it?

                                                        1. re: CookieLee

                                                          I want to try it first, I'm not going to bother if it doesn't tickle my tonsils. I've only ever eaten it in India, remember - I have no idea (yet) how this TJ version will compare.

                                                        2. re: BobB

                                                          Need some help here - my wife was in Fresh Pond yesterday and they had a frozen version but nothing in the refrigerated case. Any advice on what exactly to ask for or what the package looks like?

                                                          EDIT: Never mind, I found another thread here that describes it in greater detail. Third attempt coming up.

                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            it is called TJ Tandoori Style Butter Chicken and is in a clear plastic oval tub in the refrig case, w/ an orange label. (just fyi I do NOT prefer the frozen version.but maybe i alrdy said that.) also, if you haven't tried it, the SouthWest Salad, located also in the refrig case, is very good and convenient, as an accompaniment or on its own. also bob, if you want a few other indian suggestions for excellent frozen items (breads, snacks) found at many local indian stores, i'm happy to direct you to them.

                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                              Thanks - that was quick! Sure, any other recs would be welcome.

                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                We go to the tucked away indian store in woburn center.Our freezer inventory items are: onion kulcha by Deep (red bag)- great toasted, cut in half, pocket-filled ; 24 potato samosas in white box from ? (same brand also makes potato cheese samosas) ; medu wada (lentil donuts) from Woodlands in green box; coriander chutney for yoghurt dipping sauce, in multi pak of little oval cups;dessert- Puran Poli, also in red bag from Deep. let us know how you like the TrJ butter chicken when you finally find it!

                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                  Where exactly in Woburn is this tucked-away store tucked away?

                                                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                So - finally got to try this for lunch today, and while it was tasty, it bore very little resemblance to what I had in Delhi. That was tender chunks of boneless, mostly dark-meat chicken with no noticeable vegetables in a creamy, very hot-spicy, and seriously delicious tomato-based sauce. This was strips of all-white-meat chicken with mixed vegetables and raisins in a little bit of sweetish sauce with practically no heat. Pleasant but not something I'd go out of my way to find again.

                                                                TJ's frozen version of butter chicken actually looks (visually) much more like what I was expecting - I'll try that for lunch tomorrow.

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  you might also want to try TJ frozen tikka masala. i prefer that to the froz. butter chicken they do.

                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                    Tried the frozen TJ's butter chicken today, and while it was definitely much more in the direction of what I had in India than their fresh version, it was light-years away in terms of flavor, texture, and heat. Just meh. Which brings me back to my original question - does anyone know a restaurant in Boston (preferably around Allston or Brookline) that serves up a really killer version?

                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                      well phooey. i really prefer the fresh to the frozen. i do think you're better off putting" Excellent Butter Chicken?" as a title in its own thread. just a suggestion.

                                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                      Veda, on CP outer circle. Our favorite dishes there were the aforementioned butter chicken and an okra dish called Kararee Bhindi that stunned me, as I normally hate okra. This preparation was quite simple but unlike anything I've seen elsewhere - the okra was shredded and deep fried until dry and crisp, then mixed with a bit of onion and tomato and dusted with spices and salt. It would make a perfect beer snack.

                                             (caution for at-work readers: the site plays music)

                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                        Crisp okra dishes don't seem common in Boston, but if you're ever in NYC there are several places that have crisp okra. The chefs Hemant Mathur and Suvir Saran have had the dish in restaurants they owned but moved on from (leaving that dish, and others, behind): Amma and Devi. They *may* have it at their new restaurant, Tulsi, as well, but I'm not sure. The less upscale Aaheli on 9th and the upper fifties also has it.