Moody Street’s Little India is the perfect little restaurant for people in search of reliable Indian cuisine when they desire adventurous spices, naan straight out of a tandoor oven and even refreshing mango lassi. Friendly but reserved wait staff will calmly lead you to a room filled with picture frames of Indian deities along the walls and by decorative lights. As you are escorted to your table, which you are given the leisure to choose, you are enshrouded by Indian culture and aroma. Little India provides an escape from the dreary streets of Waltham and an opportunity to experience a taste of India, not only in the culinary sense, without the need to take a plane for over 10 hours.
Shortly after being seated, the waiter comes back with three jars of different sauces accompanied with thin, crunchy pieces of what we guessed at the time to be unleavened bread. However, unlike matzah, this unique, brownish delicacy is full of different sorts of seeds that add a distinguished flavor to it. The only seed I was able to identify was cumin, which is used in many Indian dishes. As for the sauces, they were each very distinct from one another.
One is a sweet, brown chutney that is made with a tamarind base and is called imli chutney in Hindi. Another is a lime green color, called hari, translates to green in English, chutney in Hindi, that is mildly spicy and made with a mixture of coriander, also known as cilantro, leaves and mint leaves. A few tablespoons of lime juice are also thrown in to prevent oxidation and add even more tanginess. The last, and also mildly spicy sauce, is the red, onion-based one with some chili powder and other spices. Since we were famished, all of these thin strips, which are the restaurant’s homemade poppadum as we later discovered, were swiftly devoured along with all the sauces. Luckily, since the owner of the restaurant was so kind we were brought two more servings, because we continued to wolf down all of the poppadum, of it with all the savory sauces.
Finally, after eating all of their supply of poppadum we each dug into our main courses. I shared a baingan bharta, which is roasted eggplant cooked with green peas and spices, and the chicken mughlai, which is boneless chicken cubes cooked with coconut, raisins and the restaurant’s special sauce made with cashews and almonds. For eggplant lovers, the bharta seems like a no brainer at first. However, it ended up being disappointingly mediocre because, even though it was flavorful, the spices drowned the taste of eggplant out. The mughlai, on the other hand, is a must-have if you do not want a spicy curry. The proportions of all the various ingredients were perfectly balanced. On top of the rice, which was cooked “al dente” (as an Italian would say), the semi-sweet curry tasted so delicious that I found myself scraping every last bit of it out of the copper bowl, the traditional Indian bowl that curry is usually served in, with the heavenly naan bread we ordered on the side.
The chicken in both the mughlai and the tikka masala that our friend ordered tasted fresh and soft. It was not dried out, as many sub par Indian restaurants generally tend to do. The sauces on the chicken dishes left everyone’s taste buds content. Unfortunately, we did not have time to order some of the most traditional Indian desserts such as gulab jamoon, a deep-fried milk ball that is drenched in warm syrup, or the rasmalai, cheese patties in a sweet and creamy sauce for dessert. However, a review on TripAdvisor states that these desserts are high in demand and totally worth every calorie.
Along with the desserts there are so many other dishes to try and flavors to experience. On Yelp, an application developed by passionate food lovers, a review mentions the convenient $9.95 lunch buffet: an ideal and affordable option for those curious to try as many Indian dishes as possible or just to have a superb lunch. Just as dishes at Little India are not too spicy, neither are they too pricey. It is no cheap hamburger joint, but it sure is a reasonably priced, exquisite meal. As we walked out of the restaurant we all smiled at one another in agreement that we had found our Indian home.