By Isaac Darnall May 19, 2009 Published in the May 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

With no buttery sauces and nary a naan to be found, Indish ain’t your typical curry house. Originally a British concept, the curry house (think Swagat, just a few blocks down) has, ironically, come to represent “traditional” Indian cuisine in the West—a vast misconception that this new Nob Hill eatery ambitiously attempts to unravel.

Selections like a minced-lamb samosa with smooth mint chutney, or eggplant badal jaam enlivened by a zesty ginger-tomato sauce, mushroom duxelles, and chopped zucchini, dispel any notion that Indian restaurants have to pander to popular stereotypes. Instead, the culinary love child of British-Indian owner Raj Sharma and his wife, Laura Brown (a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London), offers authentic Indian home-cooking in lieu of the heavy curries and rich creams Americans have come to expect from Indian cuisine. With Brown’s unique artisanal touch, the exotic and nutritious menu is a bold (and fitting) concept for Portland.

Indish’s plush atmosphere and quirky menu (check out the Flame-Puffed Chapati Rolled-Up Thingies) together make for an unconventional hybrid, not unlike the eclectic character of the Punjabi-British-French cuisine itself. We suggest that you curl up on one of Indish’s black leather sofas and pair a pint from the bar with a selection from the home-style roti menu. The chapati, flatbread similar to a flour tortilla, comes with your choice of three items, including an apple-braised pork stew (balchao), pan-fried cabbage, or Punjabi chickpeas slow-cooked with onions, spices, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

This lighter, vegetable-intensive version of Indian food may come at the expense of decadence, but if you can put aside your expectations of thick, cheesy paneer like the kind ladled up at any buffet in town, Indish is worth dropping by.

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