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Siraj Café
Indian goes Greek
Previous Columns

If there’s any justice in this world, the Siraj Café will become a South End institution. Opened in July by the husband-and-wife team of Rabi and Sofia Islam, Siraj is (as far as the Phoenix knows) the only restaurant in Boston serving both Greek and Indian food. Not an obvious combination, but a sensible one, given the owners’ ancestry (Rabi is Indian, Sofia Greek). And — at least as they’re rendered at Siraj — the two cuisines go together surprisingly well.

Three months into Siraj’s existence, the Indian options outnumber the Greek ones, six to four. On the Greek side, the spanakopita ($6.99) is a good choice: the spinach’s earthiness and feta’s sharpness are nicely balanced, and the filo crust is feathery and not too greasy. What’s more, the side dishes — three grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, and a startlingly fresh Greek salad — are just as tasty as the main course. As for Indian fare, the chicken korma ($6.99) is deeply satisfying stuff. Siraj’s version of this classic dish is less creamy than some, but the chicken is perfectly cooked and pleasingly (though mildly) flavored, as is the accompanying basmati rice. Be sure to try the vegetable samosas ($1.50), which feature a light, soft pastry shell and, like almost everything else at Siraj, are made fresh on the premises. And whatever your entrée, don’t miss the baklava ($1.50). All too often, this dessert is a soppy, sugary mess. At Siraj, however, it’s flaky and perfectly sweetened (with honey only; no sugar here).

The Siraj Café also features nine different sandwiches ($5.99 each), as well as assorted salads and breakfast items. The interior of the restaurant is bright and airy, and there’s free wireless for those who need it. One more plus: watching Rabi and Sofia — who’ve given up other careers to make a go of it in the restaurant business — serving their customers with a tentative but endearing friendliness. Judging from the quality of their food, they’ll be getting plenty of experience in the years to come.

Siraj Café, located at 472 Shawmut Avenue, in Boston, is open Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 8 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, from 11 am to 6 pm. Call 617.262.5708.

Issue Date: September 23 - 29, 2005
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