Indian food comes alive at these Boston bistros

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With more than 7,400 ethnic Indians in Boston, a number that almost doubled in 10 years, a multitude of restaurants have sprung up in the city that offer cuisine from the South Asian nation. To the delight of many diners, selections and recipes vary from one venue to another, reflecting the vast differences in climate, religious creeds and staple foods in different parts of the country. Fragrance and intense flavors are key to the cuisines of all Indian regions, though, and the aroma of cumin, turmeric, and saffron entice many an epicure to explore India through the palate.

For those looking for the spicy, intense and subtle flavors of India, these three Hub restaurants offer a good selection, all within a typical college student’s price-range:

India Quality

Located in the heart of Kenmore Square, India Quality menu favorites include spinach poori bread and coconut korma dishes. Owner Parmjit Singh is one of the few businessmen who stuck around as the busy area near Fenway Park was transformed from seedy to chic and more family-friendly. Originally from the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, Singh opened his restaurant in 1983.

Both the Kenmore Square location and his Punjab Palace in Allston feature home-style cooking and fresh, natural ingredients and draw from local colleges and universities for patrons.

India Quality features a homey décor with dark purple seats and decorated table clothes depicting a woman in traditional prayer. Food is served on decorative dishes with small copper bowls holding the typically shared entrees.

“All spices are fresh, non-chemical, 100 percent all-natural food,” Singh says in a promotional video. “I make my home food and mix in style here. This is my own style of everything.”

Further west, his Punjab Palace offers a more chic choice in a neighborhood with more young professionals. Outside, a large red and black sign displays the location, while inside simple paintings of Indian scenes line the walls, offering a sense of home for Indian immigrants who may dine there. A serving bar that opens into the kitchen lets the aromas of cooking foods waft out to the dining area.

Those looking for a highly rated, low-cost meal would do well to visit India Quality at 484 Commonwealth Ave. or Punjab Palace at 109 Brighton Ave.


IndianFoodShan-A-Punjab offers modern Indian fare to those on a budget in a renovated former filling station on the Brookline-Allston line in the town’s Coolidge Corner neighborhood. With both authentic Indian dishes and updated cuisine, it has something for everyone.

Once inside, there’s no lack of entertainment with Indian pop music playing in the background while televisions show movies from Bollywood. Modern white dinner plates contrast with the dining room’s green and gold color scheme.

Paneer pakera from Shan-A-Punjab (Beth Treffeisen)

Paneer pakera from Shan-A-Punjab (Beth Treffeisen)

Classic spicy samosas with potatoes and green peas or the paneer pakera, a homemade deep-fried piece of cheese seasoned with spices, make great starters. Entrees include crowd favorites like chicken tikka masala, white meat chicken tandoori-style cooked with rich tomato cream sauce, and palak paneer, fresh spinach simmered in cream and homemade cheese, made spicy by request. Make sure to pair your dishes with a bread such as garlic filled naan to soak up the flavor. If beer is your thing, try a Taj Mahal lager, served in a large bottle for sharing.

For those who don’t want to go out, Shan-A-Punjab at 455 Harvard St. provides home delivery as well.

Guru the Caterer

Chicken korma with aloo methi from Guru the Caterer (Scott P.)

Chicken korma with aloo methi from Guru the Caterer (Scott P.)

Guru the Caterer wasn’t set up as a sit-down restaurant. Rather, it serves North Indian food from locations in downtown Boston and Somerville, building a fan base since 2004 with clients from local universities, companies and residents. But there are spaces to accommodate customers who can’t wait to get back home or to their desks before chowing down.

Pushpinder Bhetia, a former fashion photographer in India, runs the operation, which he created to give Bostonians a way to get a home-cooked Indian lunch sent to them at work.

If you chose to eat right at one of his two locations, there are simple tables where you can sit, though the food is still served in white compartmentalized plastic plates But these are perfect for carrying away your leftovers. Bright orange walls add cheer and Indian style to the décor in both, which provide views of busy kitchens.

Although menu selections rotate, favorites include lamb vindaloo and vegetable pakora, a deep-fried vegetable dish served with a spicy sauce. Guru the Caterer also provides daily combination specials, offering a choice of both vegetarian and meat selections.

The delivery service offered from both venues, at 187 Devonshire St. in Boston and 1295 Broadway in Somerville, can be a great choice for those looking for a quick, flavor-filled lunch without leaving desk , shop or home.