The walls at Central Square’s India Pavilion glimmer with images of the Hindu god Shiva. The music comes from classic-Indian-movie soundtracks. Owner Mohan Singh can be spotted in the back room; he emerges to state proudly that his was the first Indian restaurant to open in Cambridge, back in 1979.
Cambridge is an ethnic-food-lover’s dream, and after 26 years, India Pavilion is still one of the best in the business. The food is I-must-be-in-Delhi authentic, the prices make you feel like a thief, and the customer service is old-school charming.
The mixed-vegetable appetizer ($3.95) comes with aloo bada, two vegetable pakoras, a samosa, two cheese pakoras, and two slices of papadum. The cheese is perfectly fried and the samosas, veggie-filled turnovers, are packed with flavorful Indian spices. After such a huge app, you’d be wise to choose a savory à la carte entrée for dinner ($6.95–$11.95). The rich navratan korma ($6.95) offers a mix of mushrooms, cashews, raisins, and cream. The chicken curry, meanwhile, features melt-in-your-mouth meat cooked with spices and herbs in a flavorful sauce. Or, for more Taj Mahal–size appetites, skip the appetizer and order a complete dinner ($8.95–$9.95 for vegetarian or chicken). It comes with soup (rich lentil, sweet coconut, or hearty chicken), an entrée with rice, dessert (homemade rice pudding, mango ice cream, or kulfi, an Indian ice cream flavored with pistachios and saffron), and chai. If you can finish everything, we applaud you. But don’t be afraid to take some home.
India Pavilion, located at 17 Central Square, in Cambridge, is open daily, from noon to 11 pm. Call 617.547.7463.