Tamarind Bay – Coastal Indian Kitchen may occupy an unassuming gray-brick building, but upon entering the dining room, patrons’ senses are captivated by the exotic aromas of coastal India. The air is heady with the scents of curry, ginger, and mint wafting from clay tandoor ovens, sizzling kebabs, and bubbling pots of saag paneer.
The owners call on their Indian roots—and their experience at Tamarind Bay's other venue in Harvard Square—to foster a dining experience that spotlights fresh seafood recipes from coastal cities, including Manglorean lobster simmered in South Indian spices and mahi-mahi pickled in a zesty sauce from Goa. The seasonal menu also boasts a variety of vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Scallion aloo infuses baby potatoes with cumin and curry and bhindi methi spices up okra with fenugreek and tomato sauce.
The pungent scent of spice-laden Indian cuisine and naan plucked straight from the tandoor fills the air of Haveli Restaurant's white-and-gold dining room. Dining pairs and quartets can opt for the Sea Food Lovers dinner's steaming plates of fish pakora, fish masal, shrimp jalfrazi, and dal makhni, and the Tandoori Lovers dinner's spicy meats cooked in clay ovens heated by hugs from the titular tandoori lovers. The Meat Lovers dinner culls tender selections such as chicken tikka masala, while the Veggie Lovers dinner represents India's meatless mastery through a trio of vegetarian curries and vegetable biryani. Patrons cool border disputes between spicy and sour taste bud factions with beverages including soft drinks, fruit juices, and mango or rose lassis.
Tradition is a powerful force at Passage to India. Running 25 years strong, the Zagat-rated eatery embraces the culinary techniques developed over millennia across the Indian subcontinent. Chefs draw on time-honored cooking methods such as slow-roasting chicken, lamb, and shrimp inside a coal-heated clay tandoor ovens—a practice that speaks to the restaurant's refusal to cut corners when preparing their menu of familiar Indian comfort foods.
The chefs make their own cheese in-house for dishes such as the Bengali staple, Rasgulla—cheese balls soaked in syrup—or the northern Matter Paneer blended with peas and spices. At the same time, they create crepe-like dosas filled with potatoes, herbs and spices to show their appreciation for southern Indian cuisine.
This dedication to the vibrant and varied flavors of Indian cuisine is evident throughout Passage to India's décor. The salmon-pink booths and mahogany chairs complement the wall art, a melange of bold swaths of crimson and saffron-yellow hues. Overhead, ceiling fans waft fresh air throughout the room and dangling pendant lamps gently light each of the tables.
Punjabi Dhaba’s flavorful dishes are so popular that owner Mohan Singh opened a grocery shop—India Food and Spices—to help diners imitate them at home. And why shouldn’t they? It’s not as if they'll be intimidated by the restaurant. The place is modeled after North Indian roadside diners with a casual vibe that appeals to Indian-food novices.
Harvest of India's modestly priced lunch buffet makes it a popular spot for students to stop for a meal between classes. Come dinnertime, though, it's on to entrees that span the whole of India, from South Indian dosas served with coconut chutney to Kashmiri goat meat marinated in tamarind and red chili.
Cuisine Type: Indian fast food
Reservations: Not offered
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11?25
Parking: Metered street parking
Most popular offering: Nanini
Delivery / Take-out Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
What is one fun, unusual fact about your business?
We have taken the authentic taste of flavorful Indian food and transformed it into an quick-serve, portable format of delivery. It is self-serve and made-to-order so you don't pay for the table service or tips, which in turn results in reasonably priced, flavorful food. We have been featured in a New York Times article series about the changing tastes of American fast food, and have also been featured in the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Phoenix.
What?s the best reaction you?ve ever gotten from a customer?
"Could be the Chipotle of Indian food."
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
Its a four-step process at Chutneys. First step: choose from a paratha wrap, rice bowl, or nanini. Second step: choose a vegetarian, chicken, or lamb filling, with few choices in each category. Third step: choose from fresh vegetables to top it. Fourth and final step: choose from a selection of 10 chutneys to customize your flavor.